Happy Labour Day

1 May 2014

Fair and Living wages for all food workers

The challenges in our global food system are real but so are the opportunities and solutions. A fair and sustainable food system is possible. We can achieve this, if key players – both in the private sector and governments – rethink and change their policies and practices on how the world’s food should be produced as well as on how those who produce our food should be treated. Today I wish to highlight the importance of fair and living wages for everyone who is working in the food sector. We believe that all workers in our food system must be able to receive enough income to meet their nutritional and socio-economic needs.

In the Philippine pineapple industry our field research confirmed that the average income of a pineapple worker is lower than the poverty threshold. We heard from Jerry Sumagaysay a laborer from the Island of Mindanao who stated “The salary that I receive is certainly not enough but I have no choice as I need to raise my children and I cannot let them go hungry”.

In the sugarcane industry in Nicaragua the cutters who work long hours on the plantations receive wages that are lower than the “basic basket of goods and services [1]“ established by the Nicaraguan  Institute of Development Information (INIDE).

In the tomato industry in Morocco the workers receive wages below the national poverty threshold for rural households. This week we learned from tomato picker Lachen Moski that he, like other workers in the Moroccan tomato sector, is not able to cover his and his family’s basic needs. He even has to buy his groceries on credit.

At Fairfood we believe that the private sector and governments have the power and responsibility to fix the food system. Without a change in how they conduct their business, the food system challenge will be impossible to solve. On Labour Day we call upon food and beverage companies to apply and secure fair and living wages for all workers in the entire production chain of all their food products. We also urge governments to enforce fair income policies for all food workers.

Anselm Iwundu, Executive director of Fairfood International

[1] This is an estimate of the cost of living for an average family in Nicaragua and includes the price of basic goods and services such as food, clothing and household maintenance costs.