From the podium

From the podium


Mr Peter Hurst (International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers - IUF)

Good evening Delegates,

I am representing several organizations. The main organization is the International Union of Food, Agriculture and Allied Workers but I am also here representing another trade union body called the International Confederation of Free Trade Union, as well as the Trade Unions here at the World Food Summit and the NGO forum.

Our organization, the IUF for short, is a global trade union federation that organizes workers in food production, in agriculture production and in hotels, restaurants and catering. So our organization which is made up of 360 national unions in a 120 countries represents the plough to plate approach to food production and the issues for food security.

We feel, as IUF, one of the goals of this World Food Summit: five years later and the follow-up work must be to help strengthen the role and contribution of waged agricultural workers. I stress the word waged agriculture workers, those like many of us here who work for a wage, work for a living. These workers can be permanent, they can be temporary, they can be seasonal, they can be migrant. These are the workers we organize and we fell they have a vital role to play in world food security, food sovereignty and indeed, in the whole issue of sustainable agriculture and rural development. We wish to increase their role and contribution in these areas, both as workers who produce much of the world's food and agriculture commodities and also as citizens. Now, we need to discuss how this can be done because the sad fact of life is that in the World Food Summit process, just not here, now, but five years ago, the waged agriculture workers remained invisible.

Quite rightly there is a lot of discussion about the role of farmers in food production and food security and food sovereignty. There is very very little discussion about waged agriculture workers, their needs. They, in fact, are part of the rural poor and the surprising fact is that even though they are invisible, there are 450 million waged agriculture workers on this planet; 450 million that is well over 40 percent of the total agriculture workforce which is nearly 1.2 billion; 20 to 30 percent of the wage-workers are women. But no mention of them.

Look at the documents of the World Food Summit made in 1996. Not a mention. Look at the documents now.

Not a mention.

Also you must think of child labour, sadly agriculture is an industry where child labour is also prevalent.

So we wish to work with the governments and the stakeholders here at the World Food Summit in the follow-up processes to do five things:

First of all, we are calling on governments and the other stakeholders to help ensure that there is proper recognition of the role in contribution of agriculture workers and their trade unions to food security. To recognize them distinct category, who are different from farmers and therefore, have different needs and can make different contributions.

Secondly, to promote policies that generates decent and productive employment by the working poor, as a major means of poverty alleviation and as part of a solution to world food security. Productive employment will help actually make poor people wealthier, get them out of the poverty trap.
Thirdly, we want to make sure that employment and productivity in poverty reduction on strategies is based on core labour standards of the International Labour Organization.

What you just heard recently from the report of the multi-stakeholder dialogue, we feel that is critical.

Fourth, we want to ensure that health safety environmental standards in agriculture are improved. In 1997 there were 170 thousand farmers and agriculture workers killed in agriculture. Obviously, that is a slaughter and that is not sustainable. Therefore, we are calling on support for ratification of the ILO convention number 184 on safety and health in agriculture.

Lastly, we wish to seek support in this World Food Summit and beyond to help trade unions to work to eliminate child labour in agriculture by improving wages and conditions for waged agriculture workers. The reason we have child labour on this planet is simple. Their families simply do not earn enough money to feed the children and to send them to school. We will not end child labour on the poverty of the working poor, unless we improve not just farmers' incomes but also the wages and working conditions of waged workers.

Thank you for your attention.

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