As the second theme, Right to unite, of our online series ‘Open Up’ comes to a close, we take a look back at what we covered in the last few weeks through this Question and Answer session.
The Right to Unite dealt with issues related to unions, working conditions and workers’ rights. We looked at how people in various parts of the world dealt with these issues, including Costa Rica, India and South Africa. We also asked you to participate in the discussion by joining our Twitter debate and by sending us pictures of your working area.
Starting next week when we will delve into a brand new topic on Open Up;we will focus on the animals central to our food supply. As always, keep an eye out for news on www.fairfood.org/openup.
We at Fairfood recognise that all workers worldwide have certain basic rights related to their employment. And one of the most important ones is the right for workers to organize themselves and form groups that look out for workers interests. The end result of this should be that workers are able to engage in a mutual dialogue with their employers about topics like wages, safety in the workplace, over-time, holidays, maternity leave and others. In the end, both parties should have equal bargaining power within the employer-employee relationship.
For more information, please see our introductory article on the topic: The Right To Unite.
A quick way of checking if the product you would like to buy is produced by a company that supports the right to unite is to check for certain labels on the packaging. There are several certification schemes out there that cover freedom of association. Among those are: Aquagap, Fair Trade, Ecosocial, Ethical Tea Partnership, IMO Fair for Life, Naturland, Proterra, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ certified. So the next time you’re getting groceries, consider looking out for any of these labels on the products that you’re getting.
The right to unite has broad international support. It is part of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is one of the basic principles of the International Labour Union (ILO).
From a list of 193 countries worldwide, 33 countries (about 17per cent) are not in support of ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of association and right to organize collectively), and 23 countries (about 12per cent) have not ratified the ILO Convention 96 (right to collective bargaining).
Of the estimated 3.3 billion workers worldwide, only 160 million people (about 5per cent) are members of formal unions or workers associations.
Union support is highest in Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland all score higher than 50per cent in 2010) with Finland having the highest union support in the world with 70per cent in 2010. Union support is lowest in Turkey, Estonia and Korea (with 5.9per cent, 7.7per cent and 10per cent respectively) (based on OECD figures)
Currently there are no figures about unionization in the food industry, but it is almost certainly dramatically lower than other industries as the food, agricultural and fishery sectors are among the lower scoring sectors in union density.
Stories of reprisals acted out on people who try to organize themselves are rife within the industry, with many examples of people being threatened, injured, or worse.
We at Fairfood International are in talks with 2500 companies worldwide to highlight the need for companies to support the right to unite. A quick and easy way to support this right is to “Like” Fairfood International on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You can also make a donation on our donation page.
Also, be sure to share our Open Up articles or updates with your friends and family so we can get the word out to others. With your public support and our advocacy work we can make sure the right to unite really becomes a right that is universally recognized and is enjoyed by all workers worldwide.
Image: Opensourceway (CC License)< Back