At least 24,000 workers employed by the two major Philippine pineapple producers – Del Monte Philippines Inc. and Dole Philippines – earn poverty wages well below a living wage, leaving them unable to afford basic needs, such as food, medicine and education. This is one of the shocking revelations brought to light by Fairfood International’s report ‘Paradise lost: the bitter reality behind working in the Philippine pineapple industry’, published on 16 October 2014.
Workers paid poverty wages and denied collective bargaining rights
According to Fairfood’s extensive research, on average the workforce earns just €4.50 to €8.50 per day, far below the €13.50 needed for themselves and their families to live in dignity. There are also an increasing number of vulnerable ‘contractual workers’, comprising an estimated 85% of the workforce, who can earn as little as €4 per day. These workers are not union members and are denied collective bargaining rights. Eelco Fortuijn, Policy and Advocacy director at Fairfood: “Fairfood has an increasing suspicion that the companies are hiring contractual workers to avoid the responsibility to pay fair and just living wages. This is unacceptable.”
A Living wage is a human right
Fairfood calls upon Del Monte Philippines Inc. and Dole Philippines to respect human rights and address the adverse impact of their current practices. A living wage is a human right. However, companies often hide behind the woefully inadequate minimum wage set by governments. Fortuijn: “The government sets the official bottom line, but a company can always decide to pay more, and should pay more, if it claims to not violate human rights!”