Labour rights group plan Fyffes protest over anti-union actions in Central America

Labour rights group plan Fyffes protest over anti-union actions in Central America

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Three labour rights groups are arranging a protest against fruit multinational Fyffes in the Irish capital Dublin on Monday, calling on the company to reinstate workers that were allegedly fired and blacklisted for joining unions in Costa Rica and Honduras.

The protest – organised by U.K.-based National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB), the International Union of Foodworkers and Banana Link – will take place at 9:30am on Monday, Jan. 16 outside the Ballsbridge Hotel on Pembroke Road.

An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for shareholders will be taking place inside to discuss the sale of the company to Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation.

Protesters are set to demand the multinational repay close to £2.5 million allegedly stolen from the sacked employees in the form of unpaid wages, holiday entitlement, education grants and social security contributions.

The groups have also called on Fyffes to compensate those who have been allegedly unfairly dismissed because they became pregnant.

“Fyffes profess to ‘respect, protect and remedy human rights’. Those in Fyffes supply chains without work and struggling to survive because they dared to join a trade union would question the strength of this commitment,” said Jacqui Mackay of Banana Link.

“Fyffes must take responsibility for ensuring that their local managements in Costa Rica and Honduras recognise and enter into good faith negotiations with local unions and that company-wide freedom of association and collective bargaining is respected at every level,” said IUF general secretary Ron Oswald.

“Before David McCann pockets his ill-gotten gains, Fyffes must fulfil their responsibilities to their workers and return the money they have so disgracefully stolen from them over a period of decades,” added GMB International Officer Bert Schouwenburg.

A Fyffes spokesperson described the groups’ move as “opportunistic.”

“The Ethical Trading Initiative is currently overseeing a process looking into these matters, so this action is a purely opportunistic move by the unions concerned,” he said.

“Unlike them, we intend to respect the process and have no further comment to make at this stage.”

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