New Report Shows the Cost of the Global Pineapple Industry to Workers and Communities

For Immediate Release

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)
Contact: 

Bama Athreya, ILRF, (202) 701-3051, bama.athreya@ilrf.org


Eva Seidelman, ILRF (202) 347-4100, ext. 105, eva@ilrf.org


Victor Quesada or Omar Salazar, ASEPROLA, Costa Rica, 011 (506) 285 1344, direccion@aseprola.org

Analea Escresa, EILER, The Philippines, alescresa@yahoo.com

New Report Shows the Cost of the Global Pineapple Industry to Workers and Communities

WASHINGTON - A new
report
by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) shows how global food corporations fail to respect human rights, public health and
the environment in their supply chains
. The report demonstrates how
pineapple workers and their communities in two of the largest pineapple
producing nations, Costa Rica
and the Philippines,
have faced the erosion of wages and benefits even as pineapple companies
increase their profits. US trade benefits
awarded to these countries have not improved labor or environmental conditions
,
though Dole is currently petitioning the US Trade Representative for further
trade benefits for its pineapple imports.

US-based corporations, Dole and Fresh
Del Monte/Del Monte Foods
, compete as the world's largest
exporters of fresh and processed pineapple, while labor and environmental
abuses run rampant in their supply chains. Leading labor advocacy NGOs,
ASEPROLA of Costa Rica and EILER of the Philippines, provided the majority
of the research for the new report.

"Dole and Del Monte are exploiting workers to bring cheap
pineapples to US consumers, and asking the US government to assist this
exploitation.  We need to hold these companies accountable to basic labor
rights if they want to keep enjoying the benefits of trade deals," said Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the
International Labor Rights Forum.

Workers and communities in pineapple
growing regions are frequently exposed to toxic agrochemicals

while their communities have suffered from contaminated water, according to the
report. Workers have said that working in the pineapple fields takes a toll on
their health and wellbeing. They toil for long hours in the hot sun for low pay
and suffer from the side effects of pesticide exposure, among other health and
safety problems. Increased land use for pineapple cultivation has left more
communities dependent on expensive food imports and has led to environmental
degradation.

Few pineapple workers have been able
to engage in collective bargaining to improve their wages, benefits and working
conditions.
Union membership in the pineapple sector has
declined drastically in the last decade both in the Philippines
and Costa Rica
due to successful company intimidation. The report shows how Dole has cut its
regular workforce by over 59% percent in the Philippines. Contract labor or
workers from "labor cooperatives" provide the majority of the
labor for Dole's pineapple production. Through this system, Dole has been
able to weaken the union and evade its responsibilities to its workers. These
workers are exempt from basic labor rights, do not receive social benefits and
are paid less than regular workers through piece-rate or quota based pay
systems. 

Omar Salazar, the Executive Director of ASEPROLA stated, "When it
comes to pineapples, we have two important goals: the workers who grow the
pineapples in Costa Rica must be able to live a decent life and consumers
should rest assured knowing that the pineapples they eat were produced under
humane working conditions, without damaging people or nature."

Dole is currently seeking to increase its investment in the Philippines by expanding production, and is
requesting special trade benefits from the US government to help fund the
expansion. ILRF will be testifying at the hearing scheduled for today (October
20, 2008), to request that before any additional special benefits are granted
to fuel Dole's expansion, US government officials must require that Dole
take measures to ensure that pineapple workers enjoy their internationally
recognized rights and decent working conditions.

Click here to read the full report:
http://www.laborrights.org/files/ILRF_pineapplereport.pdf

Click here to read ILRF's
testimony at the USTR hearing:
http://www.laborrights.org/creating-a-sweatfree-world/resources/1763

###

The International Labor Rights Forum is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide.  For more information please visit www.LaborRights.org.

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