• March 3, 2024

$14 a year is not enough

 $14 a year is not enough

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) has passed a resolution aimed at guaranteeing farmworkers the right to collective bargaining, according to a story by Stephanie Carson for Public News Service, relayed by the TMA.

And later this month, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) members will vote on a proposed boycott of Reynolds American products to protest against the working conditions. FLOC, according to Wikipedia, is a labor union representing migrant farm workers in the Midwestern US and North Carolina.

FLOC member Catherine Crow said there were a lot of issues in North Carolina, most of which had to do with farmworkers having a lack of representation and a lack of freedom of association.

This meant that farmworkers risked losing their jobs if they came across and spoke out against issues such as wage theft, poor housing conditions, and poor working conditions.

They had no job security.

Crow said that since RJ Reynolds, the parent company of Reynolds American, offered products other than tobacco, the boycott would extend to other areas including electronic cigarettes.

“[W]e’re going to be looking to target the companies that sell that product as well, like 7-Eleven and other convenience stores,” Crow said.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, FLOC representatives reportedly challenged British American Tobacco during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London over what FLOC described as human rights abuses on BAT contract farms.

In a note on its website, FLOC said that BAT, which at the time was planning to pay US$49 billion to complete its acquisition of Reynolds American, was asked about its failure ‘to be transparent and take concrete action despite numerous reports detailing human rights abuses’ on its contract farms.

This year was said to have marked the seventh year that FLOC had attended the shareholders meeting.

‘During the 2014 AGM, BAT chairman Richard Burrows claimed that there were no labor or human rights violations in the BAT supply chain,’ the note said.

‘Since then, independent research groups including SwedWatch and Human Rights Watch have published reports detailing serious human rights abuses on BAT contract farms in Bangladesh and Indonesia respectively, echoing what FLOC has been reporting for years from the fields of North Carolina.

‘In BAT’s own corporate audit report, they admitted instances of worker death by heat stroke, workers being sprayed by pesticides, and poor housing conditions, among other issues.’

After the meeting, FLOC leaders were said to have met directly with BAT executives to discuss the issues and ‘real solutions’ in more depth.

But FLOC said that while BAT had stated that it had wanted to work with FLOC to resolve issues in the BAT supply chain, human rights violations would continue until BAT agreed ‘to guarantee freedom of association and implement a practical mechanism that allows farmworkers to denounce abuses and act as their own auditors.’