Food & beverage workers’ freedom rights must be protected!

19 June 2012

“Over 60 years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining as a fundamental human right issue, but today, this right is still being trampled upon increasingly and a recent global analysis still describes a gloomy picture for workers and unions all over the world. 

It is unnerving to find that this situation is growing in the food industry. Food and beverage workers in companies’ supply chains especially those considered as “Precarious workers”, are increasingly being dismissed, harassed, beaten, threatened, imprisoned or worse – killed, for exercising their fundamental right to organise. It is clear that despite common regulations on this issue, these workers are still defenseless in the face of a sinister and inhospitable climate, where corporate greed and corruption reign supreme.

Perhaps what gives some hope is that there are indeed a few fair trade certifications and voluntary social-justice standards that seemingly go above and beyond the current regulations. Food companies must adopt and adhere to these in order to ensure that the violation of workers’ freedom of association is curbed within their supply chains.

Fairfood International introduces “The Right to Unite” via its dedicated Open Up series, to raise the level of discussion on the issue of Freedom of Association and to invite food companies, especially, to join in the effort to address this appalling human rights violation that has gone on for far too long. To echo the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) Craig Mokhiber statement at a recent panel discussion on human rights and Rio+20; we cannot think about sustainable development in the 21st century without thinking about seriously upholding fundamental human rights.”

– Anselm Iwundu, Executive Director, Fairfood International

Image: Farmer land rights protest in Jakarta, Indonesia. Jonathan McIntosh (CC License, 2004)