Interview: Worker-driven social responsibility improving working conditions in Florida's tomato industry
The Fair Food Program was set up by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to tackle abusive working conditions in the Florida tomato industry, where forced labour and sexual harassment were commonplace. The program is based around agreements with companies (13 participating retailers to date, including restaurants, supermarkets and catering companies) that commit only to source from growers who abide by a code of conduct developed by workers stipulating improved working conditions. The worker-driven model has been recognised as "the best workplace monitoring program in the US" by the New York Times and was commended by the UN Working Group on business & human rights.
In a recent interview with Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Gerardo Reyes, a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, highlighted three key factors distinguishing what he calls the Fair Food Program's worker-driven social responsibility model from traditional corporate social responsibility programs:
- Worker-driven design and implementation of the program;
- Third party monitoring of working conditions required by the Fair Food Program code;
- Market consequences via retailers committing to cutting purchases from growers who do not comply with the code