Banana union leader wins top award

15 February 2012 - 3:05pm
Press release

Fight for Honduras workers supplying UK supermarkets honoured

A woman union leader has won a prestigious award for her struggle to support workers in Honduras supplying bananas to British stores for as little as £5 a day.

Iris MunguiaIris Munguia, a former banana worker herself, will next month in Brussels receive a Silver Rose prize from SOLIDAR, a network of 56 non-governmental organisations in over 90 countries that promote social justice in Europe and worldwide. The presentation ceremony on 6 March will coincide with events to mark International Women's Day.

Members of SOLIDAR in Britain, the not-for-profit cooperative Banana Link and the anti-poverty charity War on Want expressed delight at the award.

SOLIDAR secretary general Conny Reuter said: “Iris Munguia embodies what it means to be a SOLIDAR Silver Rose Awards winner. She is a worker who has struggled for more solidarity and social justice, who has paved the way for a whole generation of woman banana workers fighting for the recognition of their rights.”

Women workers in the Latin American banana industry are often victims of sexual harassment and labour discrimination. Iris has campaigned for decades for the rights of workers, particularly women, in the Chiquita packhouse where she worked in La Lima, Honduras. She has helped ensure wages for workers on plantations which recognise collective bargaining are higher - £7 a day – than elsewhere. 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 represents a major breakthrough within the Latin American trade union movement and a move that no women banana workers would workers would have dreamed possible in previous decades.

Banana Link and War on Want are calling on the British government to ensure that a bill is included in the next Queen's Speech to create a watchdog in the UK to stop supermarkets bullying their suppliers. They say the regulation of supermarket buyer power is vital to the continuing international struggle of Iris and the plantation workers she represents for decent work and an end to poverty.


Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 (+44) (0)7983 550728

Notes to editors

  • Women workers in the Latin American banana trade face many challenges. They are often subject to sexual harassment andlabour discrimination, as they are seen to be unreliable workers. Those who secure jobs are forced to leave their children at home in order to earn a living, and in some Latin American countries the wage women receive will be significantly less than their male counterparts. Progress in addressing this discrimination has been stunted by the fact that women have been severely under-represented in unions. Iris - after many years' work in a packhouse for Chiquita near her La Lima home - became coordinator of the women's secretariat of COSIBAH (the Honduran Banana Workers' Union Coordinating Body). In 1996 she established the women's secretariat of COLSIBA (the Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Workers).
  • The Silver Rose awards ceremony will take place in the members' dining room at the European Parliament in Brussels on 6 March from 7.00-8.30pm. To attend, please register.

About War on Want
War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation. It campaigns for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.

About Make Fruit Fair
Make Fruit Fair is coordinated by Banana Link (UK), Peuples Solidaires (France), BanFair (Germany) and Nazemi (Czech Republic) to mobilise support for fair and sustainable banana and pineapple supply chains.

SOLIDAR is a European network of 56 NGOs active in over 90 countries working to advance social justice in Europe and worldwide.
It voices the concerns of member organisations to the EU and international institutions on social affairs, international cooperation and lifelong learning.        


A Living Wage for Workers

The right to be paid a living wage is a basic entitlement of all working people the world over, whether they work in the public or private sectors, in the global South or North.

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