Morocco is the top non-European supplier of tomatoes to Europe. Around 90% of Moroccan tomatoes are sent to Europe, and are mainly sold in European supermarkets, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Albert Heijn, from October to April.
Most of these tomatoes are grown in the Souss-Massa-Drâa region, one of the poorest regions in Morocco. The agricultural sector is one of the most important work providers in the region and employs 70,000 workers, who are mainly women. These workers – who pick and pack hundred thousands of tons of tomatoes every year – perform their jobs under very poor labour conditions, earning only poverty wages.
The wages Moroccan tomato workers get paid are painfully low. They cannot make ends meet.
Moroccan tomato workers get paid €5.60 a day, while a living wage should be double to three times that amount.
This is far from enough to buy sufficient groceries and medication, or to provide education for their children, condemning the Moroccan tomato workers to a life of poverty with no opportunities to escape the poverty cycle.
Fairfood International believes that European supermarkets have both the responsibility and power to ensure living wages to workers in their supply chains. We have entered into a dialogue with several European supermarkets that are selling Moroccan tomatoes picked by workers who are paid poverty wages, pressuring them to ensure that Moroccan tomato workers get what they are entitled to: a living wage. In September 2014, we published a report about the issues in the Moroccan tomato sector.
Besides that, we work closely together with the local Moroccan labour union Fédération Nationale du Secteur Agricole (FNSA). Fairfood supports FNSA in educating and training workers to improve working conditions and increase wages through capacity development training. In return, the FNSA engages with the key tomato producing companies and the Moroccan government, and bargains and campaigns for higher wages at the bottom of the supply chain in Morocco. This partnership enables us to legitimately express the general concerns of tomato workers with a specific focus upon wages and ensure longer-term impact and success beyond Fairfood’s involvement following the completion of the project. Read more about our collaboration with the FNSA.