Afruibana attended the 2023 edition of the Ghana Investment and Opportunity Summit (GHIOS) in London and continued its dialogue with the British authorities.3 August 2023
The presidents of the banana producer and exporter associations of Europe and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (OACPS) have co-signed a declaration calling on the European Union and its member states to preserve the intra-community balance in the banana trade.27 October 2023
Madrid (Spain), 6 October 2023: A delegation from Afruibana participated in Fruit Attraction, the leading international event for the fruit and vegetable industry, which took place from 1 to 5 October 2023. As part of this event, the World Banana Forum organized two panels dedicated to the issues of shared responsibility and the living wage, giving Afruibana the opportunity to express its views on these two concepts that will shape the future of the sector.
Fruit Attraction brought together the key players in the global banana industry: national producers, certifiers, representatives of the retail sector, trade unions and members of civil society. Afruibana’s participation in this major event was essential, as it is here that a large proportion of the annual supply contracts for European supermarkets are negotiated.
The two panels organized by the World Banana Forum on the living wage and shared responsibility were an opportunity for the members of the Afruibana delegation, notably Jean-Marie Kakou-Gervais (President of OBAMCI and Vice-President of Afruibana) and Jean-François Billot (Secretary General of Afruibana), to reaffirm the positions of their association.
- Achieving fair prices
First and foremost, for a living wage to be possible, it is essential that the purchase prices of the fruit sold are fair. These “fair prices” are the condition for the economic health of the producing companies, which then have the means to raise their wages. However, it is common knowledge that banana, while being the most consumed fruit in the world, is at the same time the one with the lowest price per kilo. This raises questions when, in Europe, the price per kilo of Polish apples from a few hundred kilometers away is often at least double that of bananas that must be imported from much more distant tropical regions.
The prerequisite for any debate on the living wage is therefore to obtain fair prices that cover the costs of production, transport and ripening, but also permit investment in the production system, in the social fabric of the production areas and in the environmental and social transitions resulting from changes in the regulatory framework or from producers’ own initiatives. We repeat: if we are to achieve Living Wages, we must have a serious discussion about purchase prices and the practices that govern them.
- Sharing responsibility between all players
Developed under the aegis of the World Banana Forum, the notion of « shared responsibility » is intended to guarantee a fair distribution of risks and value throughout supply chains. Aware of the challenges of environmental and social transitions, some major retailers (especially in Northern Europe) have led the way by gradually adopting this approach. Coalitions of supermarket chains in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK have publicly committed to closing the gap between current wages and Living Wage levels over the next 5 to 8 years. We welcome this positive and responsible initiative. The creation in Europe of an incentive-based regulatory framework for shared responsibility would accelerate the widespread adoption of this practice.
- Agreeing a living wage in a concerted manner
No form of living wage can be established in the long term without the active participation of workers and their employers. This consultation between workers and employers should take place by means of social dialogue, trade union representation and collective bargaining processes in each country, in compliance with its national legislation. If living wage, an objective of social justice and sustainable development (which we have publicly endorsed), is to be achieved in the long term, « it is essential that the method used to calculate and update it is the result of a global consensus and that it is clear, stable and predictable » (as per our statement dated 20 July 2022).
The legitimate multilateral institution on these issues is unquestionably the International Labour Organization (ILO). It has the mandate from governments, the expertise and the technical resources needed to develop the methodologies needed to determine what a living wage should be and to monitor changes in the cost of living on a country-by-country basis. Supported by this expertise, social dialogue in producing countries is strengthened and can effectively work towards achieving living wages.
The same spirit of consultation must prevail in the institutional dialogue between buyer and producer countries. As in the cocoa sector, the conditions for fairer trade can only emerge through transparent and voluntary trade between countries and will be facilitated even more by the establishment of regulatory frameworks ensuring responsible trade practices.