Report Released Exposing Poor Working Conditions on Flower Plantations
February 2007: Worker rights groups today released Valentine's Day Report: Worker Justice and Basic Rights on Flower Plantations in Colombia and Ecuador, finding that flower workers in the region earn poverty-level wages, labor long hours, and suffer significant health problems due to over-exposure to harmful pesticides.
This Valentine’s Day, take action to support flower workers in Colombia who tend, cut, pack, and ship flowers to consumers in the U.S. Flower workers, most of whom are women, are right now working 16- to 18-hour days for poverty-level wages to send flowers to the U.S. market for February 14. Turn Valentine’s Day into International Flower Workers Dayand take action to support flower workers and other workers in Colombia who are demanding fair wages, equal treatment, justice, and dignity.
While friends, families and couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, Colombian workers, unions, and NGOs are joining together to commemorate something different this February 14th: the International Day of the Flower Worker.
U.S. consumers spend over $18 billion annually on flowers, 60% of which are imported from Colombia. Eighty-four percent of the flowers produced in Colombia are exported to the United States, but the conditions for those who harvest and prepare the flowers are atrocious.
Thugs entered the Guacarí flower plantation in Colombia yesterday and suppressed striking workers. In response to increasing violence and financial pressure, every permanent Guacarí flower worker resigned and was replaced by subcontracted labor. Strikes continue on at least three other Floramerica-Sunburst plantations.
Hundreds of flower workers in Colombia have gone on strike to protest the failure of the country’s largest grower to pay wages and legally-required benefits. The recent strikes began on November 16 when flower workers at the Guacarí plantation in Zipaquira, Colombia, near Bogotá, went on strike in response to Floramerica’s labor rights violations. These include withholding pay for more than a month and neglecting to provide other legally-required benefits for several months, including social security and health insurance.
After more than twenty days on strike, members of UNTRAFLORES continue to occupy one of the Benilda plantations because the company has not paid all of their August salary or what it owes in healthcare for the workers, leaving many without health services. The company, owned by one of Colombia’s wealthiest families, is also pressuring its 500 contracted workers to accept partial sever
On the May 6th, 2009, workers from the newly formed union SINTRAFLORES, who are employed by two flower companies, Camino Real and Degaflores, went on strike because their employers had not paid their salaries or benefits.