Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. What’s not so well known, though, is that over the past 10 years, workers at the Los Alamos plantation in Ecuador have faced threats, intimidation and even brutal repression for exercising their rights. The plantation is owned by Noboa, which produces Bonita brand bananas for export. In the latest incident in September, banana plantation worker Lorena Burgos Anangono was fired after she had complained about being paid below the legal minimum wage.
In 2002, workers decided to organize and registered a series of trade unions in the different labor sub-contracting companies who employed them. But when workers walked off the job over the company's attempts to break or buy off the unions, Noboa responded with armed violence, injuring 19 of its own employees. One worker, Mauro Romero, lost his right leg in the attack.
In 2011, the workers who refused to yield to the company's pressure formed a new banana workers trade union. Soon after Lester Freire was voted General Secretary of the union, Noboa fired him. Despite a commitment to initiate a serious dialogue with Fenacle (the Ecuadorian banana workers union), Noboa has justified the firing of Freire and dozens of other members under the pretext of restructuring forced by the company's financial problems.
As of today, Freire has not been reinstated and workers such as Anangono continue to lose their jobs simply because they stand up for their rights. The situation at Hacienda Los Alamos is not the only evidence of the company's union-busting culture. In Los Ríos, 10 workers at Noboa’s Bejucal plantation were fired in September for forming a trade union.
This Thanksgiving season, you can show your thanks to the millions of workers in the U.S. and around the world by celebrating International Food Workers Week with us.