Giving banana workers a decent standard of living

IDH is working towards living wages in the banana sector, supporting specific interventions in Ghana and Ecuador and in Costa Rica and Belize.

Employment in the export sector promises a potential solution for poor working conditions and low wages. In many production countries, however, it is common that workers receive insufficient wages to ‘work out of poverty’.

In the four countries, bananas continue to be a core commodity for income generation. We are, through our fruit and vegetables program, SIFAV, together with key sector players, establishing a living wage benchmark in each country using the Anker methodology. We do this with the clear intent of stimulating the debate around the central issues of wages in the banana sector. In our projects we are also testing the tools that individual farms can use to calculate the gap between the actual wages they are paying and living wages, in order to develop workplans towards the payment of living wages.

The Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN) in Ecuador and Ghana is led by the World Banana Forum and Fairtrade International. Implemented in close collaboration with the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC), the project has seen the engagement of local and global stakeholders in both countries to ensure that the calculations of the cost of living are reflecting the local circumstances.

In Ecuador, project partners are now working on the finalization of the draft figures and the final report is expected to be published by the end of the year.

In Ghana, in response to the publishing of the Living Wage benchmark study in 2017, the trade unions GAWU and ICU set up an inter-union Living Wage committee to discuss how wages are set. The committee was set up in a meeting with Fairtrade International representatives to discuss the implications of the benchmark study.

To read how we are improving conditions for banana workers in Costa Rica and Belize click here.

In a new series of cases you can find more information on what other sectors, such as flowers and tea, are doing in the living wage space in collaboration with for example the Global Living Wage Coalition.