The bruising truth about bananas

Plantation workers in Costa Rica pay a high price for the tropical fruit on our tables, but trade unions are working hard to protect them. Demetrios Matheou reports

Photo of a plantation worker, walking in a plantation, away from the camera, carrying a large number of bananas on his back

Costa Rica is the biggest supplier of pineapples and the second largest of bananas to the UK market. It’s a big business. But the thousands of rural people who work in the plantations face terrible working conditions – long hours under the hot sun, often with heavy loads on their backs, for what they refer to as ‘hunger salaries’.

With a cost of living scandal circling the world, their plight is only getting worse. On top of which, local activists and NGOs report long-term attacks on both human rights and trade unions.

But local unions are fighting back, with the help of international solidarity.

We meet the general secretary of the Costa Rican Union of Agricultural Plantation Workers (SITRAP) and talk about the UNISON projects that have contributed to his union’s growing success in galvanising workers and representing their rights.

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