WDM campaigned on this issue between 1997 and 1998
In June 1997, WDM and Bananalink representatives visited plantations run by Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte Fresh Produce in the Atlantic region of Costa Rica. They found strong evidence that the workers were victimised for joining free trade unions (which have been banned) and were being made to handle hazardous chemicals.
In a powerful campaign, WDM supporters and local groups sent thousands of letters and cards, organised local talks and events, hosted Costa Rican trade unionists and dumped a tonne of banana skins in front of the UK office of Del Monte, the banana multinational. In December 1998, Del Monte signed an historic agreement allowing SITRAP, an independent trade union, to organise freely on its Costa Rican plantations. Although this was an important step forward, Del Monte has not fully implemented the terms of the agreement and has continued to deny workers their rights.
WDM is a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), involving companies, trade unions and NGOs. WDM has pressed for the ETI companies, including most of the UK's major supermarkets, to ensure that the bananas they buy are produced according to internationally-agreed labour standards. There is now an active ETI project on bananas in Costa Rica to follow up on WDM's campaign and ensure that all companies respect the rights of workers.
WDM has also been working through the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) to get fair trade bananas introduced to the UK market. Fair trade bananas are now widely available in the UK. Look out for the Fairtrade Foundation label and buy them!