Representing tropical fruit workers in Costa Rica is SITRAP (Union of Agricultural Plantation Workers) with a presence in over 40 banana and pineapple plantations. After long negotiations, the Union last week signed an historic Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Bandeco, a subisidiary of the transnational fruit company Fresh Del Monte, at its Duacari 4 plantation near Guápiles, Costa Rica.
This is the first new CBA signed between an independent trade union and a multinational fruit brand since the industry and powerful allies launched an onslaught that nearly wiped the unions off the map 35 years ago at the height of the Cold War in Central America.
The agreement signed on 10 January in San José has a series of important clauses, giving worker representatives in the plantation the time and facilities to meet amongst themselves freely and to present grievances and new ideas to the management through regular dialogue.
Although the context of unsustainable low prices paid for this year’s purchases by at least one major European buyer mean there is little room for manoeuvre at local level to improve piece rates and therefore wages this year, SITRAP has nonetheless secured some better piece rate deals for its men and women members for whom every 100 colones ($0.17) count.
SITRAP has shown itself particularly grateful for the support of both the UNISON and GMB trade unions in the UK. This support for training and education in particular has enabled them to increase their membership and strengthen their organising capacity.