The melon industry in Honduras employs an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 workers, most of whom are women employed on short term temporary contracts. For instance, on one plantation owned by Sur Agricola de Honduras (SURAGRO), the largest melon producer in …

Walton Pantland

The melon industry in Honduras employs an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 workers, most of whom are women employed on short term temporary contracts. For instance, on one plantation owned by Sur Agricola de Honduras (SURAGRO), the largest melon producer in the country, only 600 employees are permanent while 5,000 are temporary.

Field workers are normally hired on a temporary basis either under verbal contract or through subcontractors, leaving little accountability regarding labor rights. As a result, workers are often paid below the minimum wage – many earn less than $1 an hour – and have to work for several weeks before receiving their first paycheck.

Melon production in Honduras requires high levels of manual labour, and the two major occupational safety risks are exposure to harmful chemicals and repetitive stooping and bending motions. Despite widespread use of powerful pesticides and fertilizers, melon producers often don’t provide workers with protective gear, which results in a host of health problems for workers. Research recently conducted amongst women workers in the industry established that 82% of those interviewed could not name a single labour right.

Take action now: Demand that the Irish-based multinational Fyffes (Suragro) respect the rights of women workers – including the payment of a living wage – employed by their Hondruan subsidiary, Suragro.

 


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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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