Working Group 03 on Labour Rights

The Working Group 03 (WG03), established in 2010 and centred around social sustainability, aims to contribute to a better understanding of labour rights issues in the banana industry and to foster the development of a roadmap and joint global actions towards decent work in the sector. It has a strong focus on three priority areas, namely occupational health and safety (OHS), gender equity, and freedom of association, collective bargaining and social dialogue. A more recent topic covered under the working group is child labour prevention, protection and elimination in the banana sector.

Addressing labour rights issues in the banana industry has become increasingly important, in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers’ rights and its disproportionate impact on women, as well as forthcoming mandatory human rights supply chain due diligence requirements.

Objectives

  • Provide a platform for stakeholders and industry actors to convene and discuss current social and labour issues within the global banana industry, with the aim of jointly developing long-term sustainable solutions for the benefit of workers.
  • Facilitate information-sharing on the current status of labour rights within the global banana industry, as well as recommendations and good practices for improving on such issues as labour relations, collective bargaining, and other relevant thematic areas.
  • Conduct and support knowledge generation through investigations and research efforts focused on understanding labour rights issues and pathways towards decent work in banana plantations.
  • Provide knowledge and guidance to industry stakeholders on human rights due diligence.
  • Support members in the identification, mitigation and elimination of key labour rights risk in banana supply chains.
  • Initiate and facilitate multi-stakeholder efforts and activities to promote and develop the WG03’s priority areas, such as studies, pilot projects, workshops, capacity-building sessions, trainings, and webinars.
  • Carry out resource mobilisation efforts for the continued implementation of concrete, on-the-ground activities related to labour rights in the global banana industry.
  • Support efforts to replicate good practices and successful labour rights projects in banana producing countries.
  • Participate in an exchange of relevant information with other working groups of the World Banana Forum (WBF) and FAO divisions as well as externally to explore areas of synergy.

Priorities and activities

The WG03 works closely with other divisions within FAO, UN agencies, international organizations and industry actors to enable progress in the below priority areas, through knowledge generation, sharing of good practices, and multi-stakeholder projects and collaboration:

Occupational health and safety

 

Banana production involves intensive use of agrochemicals and significant risks to the health and safety of workers, producers and their communities. The WG03 works to mitigate and eliminate these health risks through the WBF multi-stakeholder Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI).

Gender equity

The WG03 has a specialised Task Force on Gender Equity (GE-TF) which was created to ensure that gender equity is a crosscutting theme in the work of the WBF. Members of the GE-TF work together to address the needs and priorities of women workers in the industry, including: employment opportunities, empowerment, health and safety, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, the gender pay gap.

Freedom of association, collective bargaining and social dialogue

The WG works together with its members to promote and ensure freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining in the banana industry. It further aims to promote and facilitate social dialogue and sound industrial relations as important tools to support decent work.

Child labour prevention, protection and elimination

While significant progress has been made to address child labour in the global banana industry, this challenge remains, particularly in the smallholder context and in light of the impacts of COVID-19. The WG therefore works to support governments and industry stakeholder in developing policies and implementing joint actions for the prevention, protection and elimination of child labour. 

All stakeholders in the banana industry are welcome to participate in the WBF. If you are interested in joining this Working Group, please contact Camila Reinhardt at [email protected]g, Victor Prada at [email protected] and/or the Secretariat at [email protected]