The article in the Mail on Sunday (UNfairtrade! Farmers picking ‘ethically produced’ roses sold in Sainsbury’s paid just 48p per hour which is less than the ‘living wage’ set by Fairtrade charity) rightly notes that despite earning above the minimum wage the workers are not yet at the level of a living wage, which remains Fairtrade’s ultimate goal.
Fairtrade is actively committed to working towards a living wage for all those within the Fairtrade system, which is why our standards require above-inflation increases in wages to close the gap each year between minimum and living wages. Permanent workers at the flower farms mentioned in the article earn one and half to two times the local minimum wage. By supporting Fairtrade, flowers retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Co-op are already giving workers on these farms a better deal. The Fairtrade premium is also paid by retailers and is managed by worker’s committees who decide how best to spend this money for the benefit of the community. The aspiration of Fairtrade is, however, not limited to this but to achieve a sustainable living wage for all, which requires effort from multiple partners including supermarkets, shoppers and governments to ensure trade is fair and workers get a fair wage for a fair day’s work.
We are concerned about the allegations highlighted by the Mail on Sunday and want to see workers earn more and enjoy a better standard of living and decent working conditions, which is why we have launched an investigation into the situation on the ground, the details of which shall be made public once complete.