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FAIRTRADE UNDER THE SPOTLIGHTS ACCUSED OF NOT RESPECTING ITS COMMITMENT

The Fairtrade Foundation is an UK independent fair-trade organization aimed at achieving better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for workers in the developing countries.

Fairtrade Foundation plays an important role, representing one of the world's most trusted ethical schemes, with 1.24 million farmers and workers around the world. In line with its policy, Fairtrade has contributed to create schools, health clinics and other social projects in rural areas. Farmers must agree to reach social, environmental and labor standards to join this scheme.

However, a recent study has revealed that in Uganda and Ethiopia poor farmworkers do not benefit from sales of fair trade certified products.

A report from the UK government has shown, indeed, that the wages of people who work in the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda were very low, under minimum standards. Moreover, wages in similar areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops without the Fairtrade certification were usually higher and the working conditions usually better, the study says.

According to the report, Fairtrade represents an inadequate instrument to enhance the lives of wage workers and the poorest rural people.

Additionally, social projects, partially financed by the Fairtrade premium, are ill-suited mechanism to provide equal benefits: the majority of the poorest people do not have access to facilities.

Furthermore, researchers have reported that significant numbers of young, school-age children are compelled to work for wages in the production of agricultural export crops, including Fairtrade-certified commodities.

Following this analysis, the report has suggested that a mixture of idealism and lack of experience is the main cause to explain why Fairtrade did not provide benefits for the poorest people in Ethiopia and Uganda: Fairtrade organizations are established in poor and marginalized areas where a combination of constraints makes smallholder farmers are unable to pay even the minimum wages.

In order to address these critiques, Fairtrade has shown that workers in areas with Fairtrade-certified farmer organizations had better conditions compared with those in non-certified, including free meals, overtime payments and loans and wage advances for workers, stressing its commitments in order to foster better working standards and sustainability.

 

The gLAWcal Team

Friday, 30 May 2014

(Source: The Guardian)