Despite producing the food on farms and plantations, we are often food insecure and earn very little. Our labour and efforts as farm workers and the extremely low wages we get are not visible at the food found in supermarket shelves. We are also kept invisible by policy makers. In many countries of the world, the plantation sector is left out of existing minimum wage regulations. Our trade unions are often excluded from policy processes.
Our exploitation is systemic
Agriculture is labour intensive, and producers are under heavy price pressure. Thus we and our families often live in squalor, without access to affordable food, clean water, electricity or proper sanitation. Furthermore, our labour on farms is characterized by poor occupational health and safety. Form many of us workers, violence and repression in labour relations is a daily reality. In general, widespread use of migrant, seasonal work and labour brocking is a key feature in agriculture. Women are entering the agricultural workforce in increasing numbers and now make up about 40% among us.
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We fight back
The unionization is important for us to ensure defence against abuse and rights violations. Some of us are punished for joining unions and actively seeking reprieve in cases of human rights violations. In those situations, we organize secretly and struggle for our rights. In our unions we have developed unique forms of organizing and of union culture, as we deal with completely different situations and dynamics as unions in urban sectors. In many cases, our unions have run extremely successful campaigns in mobilizing for higher wages or against dismissal of some of our activists.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Source: ILO 2014