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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

IUF Global Sugar Conference: Conclusions

Posted to the IUF website 24-Jul-2004

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The IUF first global sugar conference, meeting in BZO, Germany from May 19-21, 2004 involving 110 participants from 38 countries/unions,



Article 29 of the International Sugar Organisation Agreement that requests member governments to "ensure fair labour standards are maintained in their respective sugar industries".

This conference therefore

RECOGNISES the need for a united and sustained trade union effort to improve living and working conditions in the sugar sector globally and to protect employment in the sector.

Calls on the IUF to:

1) Continue to have sugar as a priority area of work and to focus on the following key areas:

(i) Organising and representing workers. Union strength comes from organising workers in the workplace. IUF should continue its programme to help unions to organise and bargain for the workers across the sugar sector. This will be the most effective and sustainable way of achieving decent work in the sugar sector, and of helping to eliminate problems e.g. unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment, child labour etc;
(ii) Migrant workers, field workers, seasonal workers and women workers are the most poorly organised and so are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. They should be targets for trade union organising drives and for improving working conditions eg. by including them in collective bargaining agreements;
(iii) Outgrowing/outsourcing/contract growing of cane and beet production is increasing in many countries. This phenomenon needs further research and subsequent development of trade union strategies.

2) Restructuring

Build trade union capacity to deal with restructuring of the sugar sector. Special attention needs to be paid to the needs of woman workers who have been hardest hit by restructuring.

3) Transnational companies

Negotiate with TNCs to agree to apply core labour standards throughout the company and share information on good practice in dealing with TNCs.

4) Trade

Assist affiliates to work on international, regional and sub-regional trade negotiations, and to assist directly where required.

Campaign at regional and international level for the inclusion of compliance with core labour standards (*) in trade agreements.

5) Gather information on the impact on the sugar industry from developments in:

(i) The production and use of sugar substitutes, e.g. artificial sweeteners;
(ii) The use of GMOs in beet and cane sugar cultivation;
(iii) The use of GMOs in sugar substitutes, e.g. HFCS production from maize.

Particular attention should be paid to the impact of these technologies on employment, the health and safety of workers, and the environment.

Calls on affiliates to:

(a) Research changing work patterns in the sugar sector and to develop appropriate strategies to organise, recruit and service sugar workers;

(b) Document the social impacts of restructuring using IUF Sugar Worker and other appropriate publications to disseminate information;

(c) Develop capacity to work on national sugar trade negotiations and, through IUF, to work together at sub regional and regional levels to ensure workers' concerns are reflected in the outcomes of the talks;

(d) Campaign for ratification and implementation across the sugar sector of core labour standards and Convention 184 (safety and health in agriculture) and other relevant international labour and environmental standards as the national situation demands;

(e) Pressurise governments who are members of the ISO to implement Article 29 of the International Sugar Agreement.

(*) Core labour standards are the International Labour Organisation Conventions = Declaration of fundamental principles
� Convention 87 - freedom of association
� Convention 98 - right to organise and bargain
� Conventions 29 & 105 - no forced labour
� Conventions 100 & 111 - elimination of discrimination & equal renumeration
� Conventions 138 and 182 - child labour

See report on the IUF Global Sugar Conference.