abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb
Article

Ecuador: Unionist is threatened & charged twice within a few months, in midst of general pressure on banana workers not to organize

"Ecuador's banana plantations, a nest of slavery", 24 Feb 2020

[Unoffical translation from German by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]

If someone defends the rights of workers in the Ecuadorian banana plantations and, like Jorge Acosta… this is automatically a risk... "The banana production is as dirty as the drug trade” [said Acosta]… Acosta has already felt the consequences… He received a death threat by phone two years ago, was charged in April 2019 for allegedly causing "economic panic", and in early February 2020, a local judge had him jailed. Acosta is the founder and coordinator of the banana union ASTAC… He requested copies of a document from the legal department of Babahoyo Municipality, one of the centres of Ecuadorian banana production,… which is the basis… to legally defend 46 plantation workers - they were fired from one day to the next in 2019 after trying to organize themselves. The document is actually public, but the administration didn't want to put it out… Acosta… pointed out that a member of the regional anti-corruption agency had requested the same document in writing the previous day… [T]he judge got angry according to ASTAC and had the police called. The unionist…started filming the situation. That was… enough to accuse him of "violation of privacy". If convicted, Acosta faces one to three years in prison... "This case needs to be shelved… to guarantee Acosta's freedom as a trade unionist so that labour rights in the Ecuadorian banana industry can be strengthened."… According to ASTAC… at least 150 workers have been made redundant in the past two years because they wanted to organize. "… One of the darkest tools… is the black list,… known since the 1980s. The names of those workers who… complain… or… organize… are written on it. They circulate among… producers in the region, which ensure that the people listed… no longer find work in the banana industry… The fear of opening one's mouth… is correspondingly great… A UN special rapporteur had compared working conditions in Ecuador's banana plantations to modern slavery ten years ago… Not much has changed since…as… “[t]hose who are actually responsible for workers' rights… are part of the Ecuadorian elite… [T]hat creates an enormous level of impunity. "… The majority of plantation workers have no written contracts… [P]oisoning from pesticides is… part of everyday life as [is] sexual harassment… Child labour is still an issue… ASTAC, which despite its approximately 1,400 members is still not recognized as a union by the government… filed a complaint with the European Union last year for failing to comply with the labour and environmental standards set out in the free trade agreement… Jorge Acosta is still waiting for the trial. This has… been scheduled for next Friday. Striking: In both cases, extracts from Acosta's social security and the tax office have been requested. "These documents have… nothing to do with the case," says his lawyer…

Story Timeline