Ecuador’s banana workers are little more than slaves, exploited in numerous ways and poisoned to death by the very air they breathe, says activist Jorge Acosta.
He ought to know — he was once one of the poisoners.
Acosta, at one time a spray-plane pilot, stepped out the cockpit and into the role of passionate defender of the workers.
Currently, he leads a labor union that is trying to bargain for rights that are guaranteed in the country’s laws and supported by international trade and labor agreements.
For example, on the big plantations, he says, “social dumping” is the norm: the workers are full time, but they are hired on short-term, part-time contracts, allowing the payment of a less-than-minimum wage.
While Acosta has been instrumental in alerting European buyers to the plight of the banana workers, Ecuador’s trade pact with the European Union does not allow sanctions — and the Ecuadorean government has not cooperated with reform efforts.
As the union’s attempted reforms are stymied in Ecuador, Acosta is now looking to bring a case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Source: Fundacion 1000 Hojas