Fairtrade Foundation statement on the situation facing workers of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic

bananas

Fairtrade remains concerned about the lack of legal status and adequate visa system for workers of Haitian descent working in many sectors of the Dominican economy. We believe that the best way to support them is to continue providing those within the Fairtrade system with essential extra finance and support to help them in the legalisation process, thereby ensuring that they continue to have access to higher wage earning opportunities.

We are confident that Fairtrade is more relevant than ever in the Dominican Republic.

Fairtrade is working hard to support workers of Haitian descent in the banana sector in a number of ways –  by continuing to work with the government, through its new Hired-Labour standard policy, through its additional worker empowerment projects which support producer organisations and workers, and through monitoring the situation in order to provide the most appropriate assistance possible.

All Fairtrade certified producer organisations must help their workers obtain the legal status they need. Fairtrade checks that all workers in Fairtrade farms have valid working visas, or that the application has been made. Fairtrade is also in the process of formalising our advocacy efforts.

We will hire a local organisation to represent us in advocating for the rights of workers of Haitian descent to the Dominican Republic government, in particular for the right to legal documentation, access to social security, and to abolish the 80-20 law under which only 20% of a farm’s workers can be.

Louise Valducci, Head of Major Retail Accounts at the Fairtrade Foundation said: “Whilst we welcome the Dominican government’s attempts to start to formalise the employment of workers of Haitian descent, we are concerned that the process has faced delays and blockages, meaning that  many workers were not able to complete the registration process and could find themselves stateless or deported with no means of providing for themselves or their families.

“Fairtrade will continue to work with the government, companies and other bodies to support the farmers and workers at the time they need it most. And we are calling on shoppers to keep supporting farmers and workers by choosing Fairtrade bananas.”

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Justin Avern, Head of Media Relations, 020 7440 7686 /07770 957 451, justin.avern@fairtrade.org.uk

Martine Parry, Media and PR Manager, 020 7440 7695, martine.parry@fairtrade.org.uk

Anna Galandzij, Press Officer, 020 7440 7692, anna.galandzij@fairtrade.org.uk

 

Notes to Editors

For more information about Fairtrade’s position on the new immigration law of the Dominican Republic see http://www.fairtrade.net/single-view+M57c11d1dfae.html

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.5 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 74 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system. 

Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2014, at a level of 78%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 exceeded £1.7 billion, a 12% increase on sales of £1.53 billion in 2012.