Historically, the Fair Trade movement started
Those of us old
enough will remember the "Nica" coffee sold in front of churches and in "Third World Shops". As coffee was the main product that was sold under Fair Trade conditions, it made a lot of sense to concentrate on the small farmers that grow the coffee, considering that about 80% of the world-wide coffee harvest is done by small farmers.
With the evolution of Fair Trade into a host of additional agricultural products, more than ever there are farm workers and workers in processing facilities involved in the production of Fair Trade products. Among these workers, the contract workers in processing facilities and the migrant workers on cooperatives and other agricultural enterprises are the ones that are most disadvantaged.
While small farmers do have at least a small plot of land that can sustain them, albeit on a marginal level, migrant workers or workers in processing facilities have basically nothing to fall back on. In some cases minimum wages are far too low to enable them and their families a halfway decent living.
Therefore, FairTSA is working on two additional approaches to improve the lot of these workers. Firstly, finding out where the minimum wage is too low for even a basic living wage and negotiate with farm and facility owners to secure a higher wage. Secondly, to include as many farm and factory workers as possible in the community development project.
The latter can take on many shapes and forms, from including the children of factory workers in a scholarship program in the Philippines, to improving basic healthcare for factory workers in Sri Lanka, to securing proper working papers for undocumented workers of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. We are sure there will be many more projects of this and similar nature to come.
We will reflect this renewed focus on workers' living conditions in the new standard version 4.0 that is to be published on January 1, 2017. We will invite all of you to comment on the draft of the standard in the coming months and hope for insights and considerations on your part for the continuous improvement of the FairTSA Fair Trade Program.