There is blood on our hands again

(From the song 'Blood on our Hands' by Death From Above 1979).

What I'm clumsily trying to say is that here's a blog what I made whilst I should've been doing something better and that if you're reading it then you should be doing something better too. Also, the fact that you and I have the time and resources to respectively make and read this gumpf is why the World is so screwed.

23 May 2007

A letter wot I sent

I was late for work this morning as the whole of Cardiff sat in traffic in front of me but it gave me the opportunity to listen to an interesting report about a certain supplier of bananas for the Fairtrade market. I heard about the treatment of Eastern European workers in Britain and made me angry enough to actually write a letter to the Fairtrade Foundation which is below. I was particularly annoyed because of the recent UKIP electioneering about workers from the new EU members during the recent Assembly Elections. Not only are UKIP a bunch of racist, little-England, parochial, dissaffected Tories - they also want to get rid of the Assembly! Too much democracy must be bad for business... or something... and God knows people in Wales would much rather be told what to do by Westminster right? Not this person in Wales.

Mike Gidney
Fairtrade Foundation Chair
c/o Traidcraft Exchange,
Tyne & Wear,
United Kingdom,
NE11 0NE.

Dear Mike,

After hearing a radio report this morning on Radio 4 about Pratt’s Banana’s and having seen the recent Channel Four programme about Fairtrade tea I would like to know what action, if any, your organisation is undertaking in order to investigate these issues.

I have read the statement on the Foundation’s website about the Channel Four programme which does indeed put things in a very different light. So with specific regard to the Pratt banana company I would like to know what investigation on your part may be under way. As far as I understand, Pratt’s bananas has so far issued the usual corporate response to any allegations and whilst it may be cynical to suggest that any internal investigation would be meaningless, I would like to know that the Fairtrade Foundation makes of the BBC’s findings. Is there any precedent for the removal of a company’s Fairtrade credentials should they refuse to recognise fault and change procedures?
I understand that investigations and the like need to be carried out and that no arbitrary decisions should be made before a considered approach can be formulated. On the other hand, the evidence provided by the BBC report was compelling and I would hope that Fairtrade Foundation has something to say about it.

Those people involved in work for companies that supply Fairtrade products should be able to work in conditions that are not just adequate but actually serve as an example to others. As far as I’m concerned they should be able to work in conditions that, at the very least, any British worker would expect in similar areas of work.

I think the exploitation of Eastern European labour is a huge and unaddressed problem that gets lost amongst a poorly concealed racist attitude on the part of a large section of society. I would hope that the Fairtrade Foundation recognises this and that steps are being taken to ensure that all sections of the Fairtrade workforce, especially in Britain where monitoring should be easier, are treated as expected.

I would like to say that I wholeheartedly support the work of the Fairtrade Foundation and that a few isolated cases of this nature are probably to be expected especially considering that practices such as these are as standard in many parts of World. With your work as an example to such people it is a real hope that some may see the need for the better treatment of their own workers and better respect for the environments in which they operate.

Yours Sincerely... etc.


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