The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has said it recognizes dialogue has been opened between tropical fruit company Fyffes, its new owner Sumitomo, and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF).
However, the entity said it was too earlier to say whether this will address concerns over working conditions in Honduras.
In May this year, the ETI suspended Fyffes following concerns over worker rights at its melon operations in the Central American country.
The Ireland-based company, which was recently acquired by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, had been given 90 days to reach a “mutually agreeable framework for engagement” with the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), or it will be expelled from ETI’s membership.
The earlier deadline of August 2 was later extended until September 8, in part to acknowledge that the European summer vacation period has introduced delays.
ETI’s tripartite board of companies, trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reviewed the suspension of Fyffes’ membership at a board meeting on Sept. 14.
"The ETI Board noted that a process of dialogue is now underway between Fyffes, Sumitomo and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF)," it said.
"While the Board recognised this as a constructive step forward, they also considered it too early to say whether the move will address ETI’s concerns about conditions for workers in Honduras.
"The Board therefore decided to maintain Fyffes’ suspension for the time being and asked ETI’s Secretariat to continue monitoring developments. The Board will review this position at their next meeting in November."
In a statement sent to PBUK, Fyffes spokesperson Brian Bell said: "Fyffes welcomes the recognition by the ETI that we are making progress in our discussions and we continue to work towards reinstatement to full membership in due course."