The Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes Workers campaign has made an appeal to the company’s new Japanese owners Sumitomo to address alleged abuse in Honduras and Costa Rica.
After a takeover of Ireland-based fruit multinational Fyffes was approved by the Irish High Court last week, 28 organisations from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States have gathered in Bologna, Italy, calling on the directors of the newly acquired company to improve labour conditions in Central America.
In a release, NGO Banana Link said that amid the Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes Workers campaign, systematic sackings allegedly continued at Fyffes Honduran subsidiary Suragroh.
“In the last week we understand that 65 security staff have been sacked,” Banana Link said.
“This move follows the establishment of a new union branch committee established to represent these workers at the plantation.
“Among those sacked were the newly elected General Secretary and Treasurer of the union branch, a move which was effected before Honduran labour law protection for elected union officials could come into effect.”
The group said it understood the company now planned to outsource its security operation, “further abdicating” responsibility for respecting the labour rights of employees.
Banana Link said the takeover by Sumitomo had raised hopes new directors would address the alleged continued labour rights violations, pointing to comments by Ted Eguchi, who was named as a director of the newly formed Sumitomo subsidiary taking over the Fyffes operation.
“Obviously when you are in the farming business, you do have those issues. But we have to . . . make sure we do the right thing and we’ll look into what they’re asking for and what they’re protesting about. And if there are things that need to change, they’ll change,” Eguchi was quoted as saying.
“During the recent delegation to Honduras, the Fyffes security guards told me, ‘As security guards, we should also have security of life’,” added Gabriela Rosazza of the International Labour Rights Forum.
“They told me that joining the union was their only option to defending their rights. These sackings sicken me and demonstrate once again the blatant disregard Fyffes has for the inherent and inalienable rights of their workers.”
At the time of writing Fyffes’ public relations agency had not yet responded to requests for comment, and 6,449 people had signed a petition calling for change.