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USA: Walmart joins Fair Food Program fighting sexual harassment in farms through code of conduct & external audits

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23 January 2014

Dignity for Farmworkers [USA]

Author: Kerry Kennedy, president of RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights, letter to editor of New York Times

The tactics of the business-backed Worker Center Watch and its ilk seem more desperate than ever. This month, Walmart joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program to advance farmworker rights...[The] people who harvest our food are paid poverty wages without overtime in an industry where a 95-hour workweek is considered standard. I’ve met men who worked 10 years without a day off, women who were sexually assaulted in the fields, and children as young as 14 who earn $3.20 an hour for backbreaking labor...[Let] us call on Publix supermarkets and the remaining holdouts to take this simple pledge: A penny more per pound to bring dignity to our farms.

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16 January 2014

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Announces Walmart to Join Groundbreaking Fair Food Program [USA]

Author: Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Walmart today joined with its Florida tomato suppliers and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to strengthen and expand the groundbreaking Fair Food Program...“We are truly pleased to welcome Walmart into the Fair Food Program. No other company has the market strength and consumer reach that Walmart has,” said Cruz Salucio of the CIW...Alexandra Guáqueta, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights [said"] “[i]t’s great to see the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, join this kind of ground-breaking accountability arrangement.”...The Working Group noted that the Fair Food Program is closely aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by States at the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. “We are eager to see whether the Fair Food Program is able to leverage further change within participating businesses, and serve as a model elsewhere in the world,” added Ms. Guáqueta.

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15 January 2014

A Penny a Pound and So Much More [USA]

Author: Pooja Bhatia, OZY

Wal-Mart joined the Coalition’s Fair Food Program the day this story was published, making it the 12th, and largest, retailer to do so. Given Wal-Mart’s purchasing power and influence over other supermarkets, Reyes-Chavez says, it’s a huge development and might lead to an expansion of the Fair Food Program to states beyond Florida and crops besides tomatoes...“Since the very beginning of the Coalition, our demands have been essentially the same: fair wages and dignified treatment,” says Gerardo Reyes-Chavez, a longtime staff member..."[W]e realized we needed to go to the buyers of the produce we were picking, the McDonald’s and Taco Bells, because they’re the ones who have the greatest influence over the farmers, and the ones who benefit most from low wages and poor treatment of workers”...Could the Coalition’s strategy apply to other sectors, like garments assembled abroad or electronics made in China? ”It’s not impossible,” Reyes-Chavez says, “but a lot of pressure from different angles needs to be in place, and everyone has to work together...” Most important, he says, is that the movement be worker driven. [Also refers to Burger King, Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, McDonald’s, Subway, Whole Foods]

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15 January 2014

Wal-Mart signs deal with farmworker program that fights harassment [USA]

Author: Bernice Yeung, Centre for Investigative Reporting (USA)

One of the most effective programs to curb sexual harassment and assault in the agriculture fields expands today with the inking of a national contract with Wal-Mart…Under the Fair Food Program, restaurant chains and grocery stores agree to pay a penny more per pound for Florida tomatoes. In exchange, they buy only from growers who’ve agreed to a strict code of conduct that includes increased pay and labor protections…Sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers is a persistent problem in American fields and packing houses…[and an] investigation featured Fair Food as one attempt to combat the problem…Growers who don’t follow the code can get banned from selling to places like McDonald’s and Taco Bell [part of YUM!] for at least three months…To ensure that farms are adhering to the code of conduct, growers must provide sexual harassment training and undergo regular external audits of work conditions…[Also refers to Aldi, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s (part of Aldi Nord), Whole Foods Market, YUM!]

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