Objective and Achievements

The principal objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Improve occupational health and safety (OHS) prevention, management and control mechanisms at the plantation and farm level in banana-producing countries;
  • Enable effective collaboration on OHS between companies, workers and governments, through joint capacity building programs, as well as the establishment and strengthening of workplace and national tripartite OHS committees;
  • Strengthen tripartite dialogue processes for OHS towards regulatory and institutional changes, and the ratification of ILO’s Convention 184;
  • Support national and industry level progress on OHS through effective collaboration between government and private sector agencies and institutions;
  • Develop industry expertise on OHS and prevention and control, including psycho-social risks, gender issues and participatory education methods. 

As such, one of the fundamental achievements of the initiative to-date has been the development and consensus reached on a Manual on Occupational Health and Safety in the banana industry, which was developed as a result of collaborative tripartite efforts. 

Ecuador

In Ecuador, the Manual has achieved an institutional transformation within the local banana industry, which has primarily been as a result of the strong involvement and cooperation of key actors including the Ministries of Labour and Agriculture, the Ecuadorian Institute for Social Security (IESS), AEBE (Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association), private sector partners and civil society organizations (including COLSIBA – Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-Industrial Workers Unions), amongst others.

The Manual was developed in line with the national legislative framework as well as international requirements. It was presented as the National Manual on Occupational Health and Safety for the Ecuadorian Banana Sector during the Third Global Conference of the World Banana Forum in November 2017 and officially inaugurated in Machala, Ecuador in May 2018, whereby the Ministers of Labour and Agriculture symbolically delivered the manual to banana plantation workers.

The launch also resulted in the presentation of the new Ministerial Agreement (No. MDT-2018-0108), which establishes the compulsory status of the Manual and the new legislations included in it. Ultimately, the delivery of the manual gave way to the training activities for public and private sector representatives in the provinces of Guayas, Los Rios and El Oro. More than 250 inspectors from the Ministries of Labour and Agriculture and 1200 private sector OHS representatives have received training.

The strong support for the initiative and the manual led to the co-development of an e-learning platform by the BOHESI team and the Ministry of Labour, which ultimately aims to provide guidance and open source information for trainers.

This activity may contribute to subsequent ongoing collaborative processes for the development of a National Regulation on OHS in the banana sector, but may also ultimately serve as a starting point for the creation of a National Regulation on OHS in the agriculture sector more generally. 

Cameroon                

After the successful development of the Manual in Ecuador, it was adapted to be used in the Cameroonian context and reviewed by local companies (PHP and CDC) and trade union (FAWU and PHP Union Platform) partners. The Manual is now published and available online.

An initial training on OHS was funded and supported by BOHESI and implemented by local trade union partners, FAWU and the PHP Union Platform, in May 2017. The objective has been to raise awareness amongst workers on key OHS issues with respect to Convention 184, strengthen joint-OHS committees, and promote greater company-union collaboration on OHS training and programme implementation. This preparatory training reached approximately 500 workers and union leaders.

Furthermore, a Committee on Convention 184 was set up between local company and trade union banana industry partners, which met quarterly to discuss the potential ratification and implementation of Convention 184, engage the government in sector level dialogue, and also share practices and learnings on OHS within the framework of BOHESI. 

The BOHESI coordination team planned to delivery training sessions and conduct tripartite meetings on health and safety in July 2018. However, due to the ongoing unstable political situation in the country, the activities were postponed until the situation improves. The situation has had significant impacts on all local companies and trade unions, in particular CDC, whose banana production has completely stopped and it is unsure when the plantations will be able to re-establish their operations.

In order for the BOHESI ‘training of trainers’ to be effective and have the intended long-term impact on health and safety conditions at an industry level, it is necessary to ensure that the local trainers have the capacity to replicate the training at local level. It was therefore recommended that BOHESI training delivery is put on hold until at least early to mid-2020.

Despite the difficulties faced with the political situation in Cameroon, the tripartite development process has resulted in a ‘best practice’ manual for the industry in Cameroon, which can be easily adapted to the local context in different countries of production. The activities in Cameroon have since sparked interest in Ghana, where, amongst other things, efforts are being undertaken to adapt the Manual to the Ghanaian context in 2019.