Living Wages in the Banana sector

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’.

On this subject, SIFAV is supporting the implementation of two projects that have made significant progress over the past months: the project led by Fyffes on sustainable banana production in Costa Rica and Belize, and the project named Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN) led by the World Banana Forum in Ghana and Ecuador. Across both projects there has been a strong collaboration with the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC).

Implemented in collaboration with other private partners and Rainforest Alliance, the project led by Fyffes has two key objectives: firstly, to conduct living wage benchmark studies in Costa Rica and Belize, and secondly, to develop workplans towards the payment of living wages on select pilot farms. With draft figures from the living wage benchmark study in Costa Rica now available and the study in Belize under way, the project has moved to the next step: calculating the current wages associated with the lowest paid piece rate for male and female workers at each of the eight pilot farms in two countries. These calculations will enable farms to develop strategies towards paying living wages that will hopefully become best practice examples for other players in the sector. More information on this project can be found here.

The Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN) also presents a valuable opportunity to establish living wage benchmarks and calculate the wage gaps in other two banana-producing countries: Ghana and Ecuador. Implemented in collaboration with Fairtrade International, the project has seen the engagement of local and global stakeholders in both countries. In Ecuador the first draft results of the living wages figures will be discussed soon. 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.

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.