Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN)

In the banana sector, it is not uncommon for plantation workers to receive wages that are insufficient for enabling a decent standard of living, which ultimately affects their overall well-being and the sustainability of the sector's supply chains.

The Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN) is a pilot project implemented in the banana-producing countries of Ecuador and Ghana, with the aim of enabling national consensus on living wage benchmarks that can be used as a tool for future wage negotiations and minimum wage-setting interventions in the banana sector of each country. In these countries, bananas continue to be a core commodity for income generation. Therefore, this initiative provides a powerful opportunity for local economic sustainability by establishing living wage benchmarks in the banana sector using the Anker methodology, and ultimately providing a concrete basis for bridging the gap between actual wages and living wages.

The initiative was launched in 2016 by the World Banana Forum (WBF) and Fairtrade International (FI) - a leading member of the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC), and has been co-funded by IDH and other public/private entities. Through this initiative, the WBF facilitates the discussions between all stakeholder groups so that they can agree collectively on the appropriate benchmarks. As such, it does not have any pre-defined benchmarks to recommend.

A Multi-Stakeholder Approach

The initiative counts on the engagement and participation of key stakeholders at local and global levels, including banana workers and producers, retailers and companies, as well as governments of exporting and importing countries. Engaging these diverse stakeholders in the initiative not only provides important short- and long-term benefits to such actors respectively, but is also key to the success of the initiative.

Banana workers and producers can use living wage data collected through this initiative to:

  • Strengthen their dialogue for wage increases during collective bargaining negotiations
  • Improve their individual social conditions (i.e. health, education) and productivity, resulting from an increases in wage payments

By supporting sustainable working conditions for banana workers, retailers and companies can:

  • Strengthen their corporate social responsibility objectives and benefit from increased brand reputation
  • Create the necessary pressure to push other retailers and suppliers to engage in sustainability-oriented activities

Furthermore, LIWIN can provide government entities with additional information and strategies to support their policies on the promotion of human rights and improved working conditions for banana workers in Ecuador and Ghana.

Project Objectives and Activities

The principal objectives of the initiative include:

  • Estimating the cost of a living wage for workers in both rural and urban areas of each country
  • Facilitating national multi-stakeholder discussions on living wage benchmarks
  • Informing collective bargaining and minimum wage-setting in the banana sector of each country
  • Raising awareness and increasing transparency on living wage benchmarks within countries and along supply chains
  • Increasing stakeholder commitment by engaging with, and empowering actors in closing the gap between actual wages and living wages through advocacy activities with governments and trade unions

As such, the principal activities to be carried out in order to achieve these objectives include: (1) research analysis and field work for benchmark studies, (2) facilitation of multi-stakeholder discussions on living wage benchmarks, and (3) advocacy and capacity building work based on agreed benchmarks.

Results and Latest Updates

For Ghana, the living wage benchmark study has been published (available here). A review process was organized by Fairtrade International, in which the lead researcher met with employers and trade unions to explain the methodology used and the research process that was undertaken. Fairtrade representatives also presented the motives for the research and ensured that all expectations would be managed, as regards the application of the living wage benchmark. A major outcome of the review process included the establishment of a Living Wage Committee between trade unions to determine how to effectively make use of the benchmark in their relationships with employers and governments.

For Ecuador, the living wage benchmark study has been completed and the report will be made available soon. For the purpose of reviewing and disseminating the results of the living wage benchmark studies, representatives from government, employer organisations, trade unions and other civil society groups were identified and will be invited to in-person review process. The coordination team is exploring the possibility of organizing bilateral sessions with stakeholder representatives prior to executing a general workshop involving all stakeholders.

Ultimately, WBF members understand that living wage activities must involve a collective effort at a global scale to ensure that no country is left at an economic disadvantage, and therefore support the need to conduct living wage benchmark studies and advocacy activities in all or as many banana-producing countries as possible.

For further information, please contact Victor Prada at [email protected], Camila Reinhardt at [email protected], and/or the WBF Secretariat at [email protected].