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Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. Message Board

  • LeonMusa LeonMusa Nov 29, 2006 5:55 AM Flag

    Pines

    'The conditions we witnessed were dreadful,' says Bert Schouwenburg, a full-time official for the GMB in London. 'If you had any empathy for the people who grow and pick the pineapples, you just wouldn't grow pineapples this way. The workers were being used like donkeys, with no thought for the damage this back-breaking work does to their health. I was appalled at what I saw and what I learned from talking to workers. It was like seeing Dickensian conditions, only with sunshine.'
    Another delegation member, Cath Murphy, a GMB shop steward from Scotland, was so upset by what she saw on the plantation that she cried at night when she got back home. 'I couldn't stop thinking about the faces of these young men, still only in their teens and twenties, but with a dullness and hollowness in their eyes. They looked totally exhausted. The plantations are so massive that they have to wake up about three am to walk to work for a five or six am start. They get paid for an eight-hour day, but they usually have to work for more like 11 or 12 hours to meet the targets. Then they have to walk home again. Most do not arrive back until at least eight in the evening. They only get 30 minutes break each day and there is no protection from the sun and the rain. We saw a group huddling under a trailer full of pineapple plants just to get some shelter while eating their packed lunch. There is the odd tin hut that passes for a toilet, but it is a very long walk to get to one. The one we saw had no water, no soap, no toilet paper, no washbasin.
    The conditions were really bad. The boys told us that if they complain, the managers send out the police to check their papers. Many of the Nicaraguan workers are poorly educated and don't know how to get the right work documents, so rather than get into trouble with the police, they say nothing.'
    The delegation brought back a letter to British pineapple consumers from a group of Nicaraguan migrant workers (who make up the bulk of the country's fruit workforce) on the Pinafruit plantation. In it they highlight their working conditions and ask for better treatment.
    http://environment.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,1948538,00.html

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