Banana Union Leader Wins Top Award

23 February 2012

A woman union leader has won a prestigious award for her struggle to support banana plantation workers in Honduras.

Iris Munguia, a former banana worker herself, will receive a Silver Rose prize from SOLIDAR, a network of non-governmental organizations that promote social justice worldwide. The presentation ceremony will take place in Brussels on 6 March.

We are delighted that Iris has received this award. Iris took part in banana meetings at Fairtrade’s offices last year (read more here) and impressed staff with the story of her tireless struggle to campaign for workers’ rights. Of particular note is her work for women, who are often victims of sexual harassment and labour discrimination in the Latin American banana industry.

“The most satisfying thing about working with women is realizing that your work can contribute to making women's lives better,” says Iris. But what is most important for her is collaboration between men and women. “Only by working together, can men and women carry out the necessary transformation to bring about a fairer and worthy world for everyone.”

Last year Iris was voted in as the first female coordinator of COLSIBA, the Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Workers. This is a major breakthrough within the Latin American trade union movement which no women banana workers would have dreamed possible in previous decades.

“Iris Munguia deserves our utmost respect and admiration for her efforts to improve the rights and conditions of work for banana workers,” says Wilbert Flinterman, Fairtrade International’s Senior Advisor on Workers’ Rights and Trade Union Relations. “Fairtrade International is dedicated to further strengthening its relationship with COLSIBA. We actively support Iris and her colleagues by promoting trade union rights and collective bargaining in workplaces that are Fairtrade certified.”

Iris will join other COLSIBA representatives and Fairtrade International staff at the World Banana Forum in Ecuador next week. The forum brings together all key banana players, NGOs, retailers and trade unions, to work towards a more sustainable banana industry.

We also encourage consumers to take part in the “Make Fruit Fair” campaign to lobby supermarkets, fruit companies and governments for fair and sustainable banana and pineapple supply chains. Learn how you can get involved at

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