In the past, jobs in the flower industry were often insecure with short-term contracts, low wages and no benefits. While much has improved in the industry, there is still room for workers on flower plantations to improve their conditions.
Below you can find out about:
- Problems facing workers on flower farms
- Benefits of Fairtrade for workers
- Fairtrade certified producers
- Buying and selling Fairtrade flowers
- Fairtrade Standards for flowers
Problems facing workers on flower farms
The Netherlands produces half of world flower exports, but a growing proportion of cut flowers are produced and exported by countries such as Kenya and Tanzania in Africa, and Colombia and Ecuador in South America. Over the past years, conditions have vastly improved for workers in these countries, but there are still challenges.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission has found evidence that workers are being paid less than $1 US a day for an 8- to 12-hour shift and housing them in crowded facilities. Workers are often required to handle dangerous chemicals without proper protective equipment, putting them at risk of being poisoned.
In addition, relatively few workers belong to unions which would allow them to collectively negotiate better working conditions. Instead many flower companies work to actively prevent the establishment of unions. A 2004 report from Oxfam claims that 88% of Colombian flower workers either believe they would be fired for joining a union or did not want to discuss the issue.
Benefits of Fairtrade for workers
Fairtrade aims to protect and benefit workers on flowers farms by certifying those farms which ensure safety and good working conditions for their employees. Consumers can now purchase Fairtrade flowers with the assurance that the rights of the workers who have produced them are being respected.
Fairtrade Standards for flowers
Among other things, Fairtrade Standards for flowers ensure the following:
- A Joint Body composed of workers and management is formed to manage the Fairtrade Premium, with workers given the veto in decision making.
- The Premium must be used for community development and improved working conditions.
- Forced labour and child labour of children under 15 years old is prohibited. Children aged 15 and over cannot do work that compromises their health or education.
- Workers have freedom of association and collective agreements. They have the right to establish or join an independent union, elect their advisors and design their own programmes.
- Salaries must be equal to or higher than the regional average or the minimum wage.
- Health and safety measures must be established in order to avoid work-related injuries. A detailed set of safety regulations specific to flower production limit the use of agrochemicals and prohibit the use of banned pesticides.
Fairtrade certified producers
You can read a number of case-studies of Fairtrade flower producers on the Fairtrade Foundation website.
To find out which flower producer organizations are currently Fairtrade certified, you can check the database available on the FLO-CERT website.
Find Fairtrade Minimum Prices and Premiums