Blog: Flowers

Remembering Stephen Coats / Recordando a Stephen Coats

It is with great sadness that we post this news.  Stephen Coats, Executive Director of USLEAP, passed away on April 2, 2013.  Stephen was a tremendous friend and a tireless advocate of workers’ rights.  He touched so many people around the world, serving as a leader in building worker solidarity in the Americas.  Stephen’s dedication and humility inspired so many worker rights advocates.  This is a tremendous loss for all.

Guidance for Consumers on Valentine's Day

Chocolate has been flagged as a sweet industry that’s acquiring a sour reputation for its pervasive use of forced and child labour.  Over 109,000 children work under atrocious conditions in the cocoa industry of the Ivory Coast, and an estimated 10,000 of these children are enslaved.  With Ghana and the Ivory Coast producing around 70% of the world’s cocoa beans, it is more than likely that each of us has consumed chocolate produced at the expense of a child’s freedom. 

Stand in Solidarity: International Day of the Flower Worker

The majority of Colombian flower workers receive the minimum wage, which covers approximately 45% of the food budget for a family. Workers often rely on overtime pay to compensate for insufficient wages, but Law 789, passed in 2002, defines the working day as 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., establishing that overtime rates are only applicable outside of that time frame. Obligatory and unpaid overtime is common, and workers comply for fear that they will lose their jobs.

The Dank Smell of Roses

Years ago, the disparity between workers’ wagers and company profits was not quite so huge. International competition has pressured companies to demand more and more of each worker, without increasing their wages. Retired agronomist Alberto Caro who once owned a share in a flower farm chose not to succumb.

Flower Workers’ Conditions in Finca Guacari Will Be Taken to the ILO Committee on Application of Standards

Under these circumstances, on September 18, Sintraguacari decided to go on strike in defense of their labor rights and to protest the unfair dismissal of seven of the union’s members. While these rights are recognized by domestic and international legislations, their enforcement is very poor in most of the cut flower industry in Colombia.

“Riegel Deceits, Exploits, Steals and Lays Off Workers”: Temporary workers in the Colombian Cut-Flower Sector on Strike

According to the workers on strike, the workers at Riegel have not been paid their social security for the past 11 months, in spite of the amount for social security being deducted from their wages. Event though the company paid part of the wages owed in response to the first week of the strike, many other workers have not received any compensation, including the workers leading the resistance.

Happy Mother's Day and the 2010 Report on the Colombian Floriculture Industry by Corporación Cactus

Hopefully you answered no; however, for many workers in the Colombian flower industry, the answer is not as clear. Situations like the one mentioned above were just one of the many unfair employment practice trends that were emphasized by Corporación Cactus in their 2010 Report on the Colombian Floriculture Industry. 

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