Mbide Charles Kude, General Secretary of Fako Agricultural Workers Union   Mbide Charles Kude, General Secretary of the Fako Agricultural Workers Union (FAWU) in Cameroon, visited the UK last as part of the Europe wide Make Fruit Fair campaign. We …

Walton Pantland

Mbide Charles Kude, General Secretary of Fako Agricultural Workers Union

 

Mbide Charles Kude, General Secretary of the Fako Agricultural Workers Union (FAWU) in Cameroon, visited the UK last as part of the Europe wide Make Fruit Fair campaign.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with him and hear about conditions faced by workers on banana plantations in Cameroon, and how campaigners and activists in other countries can help improve conditions.

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[powerpress url=http://archive.org/download/MakeFruitFair/MakeFruitFair.mp3]

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Mr Kude called on supermarkets and fruit companies to accept responsibility for, and to improve, the conditions facing workers on banana plantations in the South West province of Cameroon.

Research undertaken last month in Cameroon reveals that the average wage a banana worker takes home covers less than a third of the basic needs of a household. Workers survive by accumulating substantial inescapable debt or simply failing to meet the basic needs of family members, for example children being sent home from school when their parents are unable to afford school fees.  ‘Workers describe employment in the banana export industry as signing up to a lifetime of debt’, according to Jacqui Mackay, National Coordinator of Banana Link.

Banana workers in Cameroon also suffer the negative impacts of poor housing provision and sanitation facilities, a lack of safe drinking water as well as other workplace risks including long hours and exposure to toxic agrochemicals. Workers apply chemicals by hand and are exposed regularly to aerial spraying without proper protection or health and safety education. The bananas produced by workers organised by FAWU are all exported to the EU, including supermarkets in the UK. These bananas are marketed by Del Monte, one of the largest fruit multinationals in the world.

Mr Mbide is appealing for funding to support the ‘Educating and empowering banana workers and their union to improve livelihoods in Cameroon’ project which began this June. The project aims to educate workers about their labour rights and empower FAWU to secure improved living and working conditions for thousands of workers and their dependents.

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About Banana Link

Banana Link works towards fair and sustainable tropical fruit trade and production in partnership with plantation worker unions and small farmer organisations in Latin America, Africa and Cameroon. Banana Link is an active member of the multi‐stakeholder initiative, the World Banana Forum.

About Make Fruit Fair

Make Fruit Fair is coordinated by Banana Link (UK),  Peuples Solidaires (France), BanaFair (Germany) and Nazemi (Czech Republic) to mobilize support for fair and sustainable banana and pineapple supply chains. www.makefruitfair.org

About FAWU and the project 

‘Educating and empowering banana workers and their union to improve livelihoods in Cameroon’ is a 3 year project being managed and delivered by FAWU and Banana Link. Some funding has already been generously provided by the Allan & Nesta Charitable Trust and the Unicorn Grocery, but more support is needed to fully implement the project activities. Cameroonian research was undertaken through this project in August and September and is based on 110 worker interviews.

To read more and donate to Cameroon appeal please visit:

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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