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Child Labor and the Bananas on your table

A number of multinational corporations, including all of the major suppliers of bananas in the Portland market, get their supplies from Ecuadoran plantations that violate child labor and labor organizing treaties. What you can do about it.
Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/ecuador) has reported substantial violations of international child labor conventions in Ecuadoran banana plantations. Ecuador supplies 24% of the bananas consumed in the United States. Children work under dangerous conditions in Ecuadoran plantations, and adult workers fear firing if they attempt to organize. Ecuador is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states (Article 32) that every child has the right "to be protected from any work that is likely to be hazardous or to to interfere with the child's education, or be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."

Ecuador is also a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to form and join trade unions in article 22(1).

Major exporters of Ecuadorian bananas are the Ecuadorian corporations Noboa and Favorita, as well as Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole. Human Rights watch has documented in a report "Tainted Harvest" that 70% of the children interviewed worked on plantations supplying Dole, and that Dole leads foreign multinationals in acquiring Ecuadoran bananas. Dole gets about 1/3 of its bananas from Ecuador.

Consumers can get a fact sheet about child labor and bananas at the HRW website. A sample letter to grocers and food service providers is also available.