Decent work means having job opportunities that are productive, generate a decent income, and provide job security and social protection for families. Good jobs are critical for building strong communities. For workers this means opportunities for personal development and social integration; freedom of association; participation in decisions that affect them; and equal opportunities and treatment for men and women.
Solidaridad’s expertise and capacity
Decent work is part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 agenda. Since our origins, more than 50 years ago, we’ve been taking actions to:
- Promote and build capacity to adopt good agricultural & industrial practices
- Provide technical assistance to develop corporate guidelines for decent work
- Build consensus and develop participatory models for decent labor conditions
- Raise awareness, influence political agendas, and facilitate inclusive and participatory dialogue through multi-stakeholder platforms
- Integrate gender and inclusivity indicators
Promoting decent work in the Honduran palm oil sector
In 2021, Solidaridad launched its RECLAIM Sustainability! programme to contribute to value chains and inclusive sustainable trade in an innovative way. The programme works to ensure that the interests, voices and the rights of farmers, workers and citizens are represented in decisions on the sustainable use of natural resources, decent work, the distribution of fair value and sustainable consumption.
In Honduras, the programme developed a capacity building program led by specialists in decent work legislation to strengthen the capacities of workers and employers in the palm oil sector. Solidaridad also strengthened the capacities of stakeholders to improve the social performance of companies and producer organizations, aligned with good ethics management and transparency.
The first step was to develop a map of key actors based on influence and interest in decent work, human rights and sustainability in the Honduran palm oil sector. Next, we worked to create spaces for dialogue that could lead to the development and implementation of solutions for sustainable palm oil, and strengthen technical capacities on decent work and inclusivity.
The programme reached a total of 2,745 workers, producers and leaders in the two-year intervention through 122 workshops in community locations. These workshops encompassed three dimensions; ethics and transparency, labor rights and conditions, and occupational health and safety.
“There are many things that we learned here, that we, as a company, need to put into action. There are things that we didn’t know but now we have the knowledge, so hopefully this does not stop here,” Gabriel Atenera, Asociación de Productores de Palma del Valle del Aguán, APROVA
Building more equitable textile supply chains in Ethiopia
The Bottom Up! programme was launched in 2019. This programme works to create a more sustainable cotton and garment value chain in Ethiopia, an up-and-coming producing country.
Women make up over 80% of textile workers in Ethiopia, while men are in the clear majority at the management level. It remains difficult for women to reach management and decision-making levels in the sector. Finding a solution to this persistent issue is critical for creating a sustainable textiles sector, and a key aim for the Bottom Up! programme.
Solidaridad has provided trainings on inclusion and gender equality in textile factories, and helped support women as they develop leadership skills and take on management roles. Over 2,750 women factory workers have received training through the programme to date.
Solidaridad also partnered with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry, GIZ and UNIDO to develop a set of ambitious gender mainstreaming guidelines that will be used throughout the country’s textile industry. The guidelines address gender-related issues specific to the sector including unequal access to resources and more skilled, higher-earning positions, and a gender-based pay gap.
Supporting local enterprise to support decent work
South Africa is marred by the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment. As the country works to recover from the ongoing effects of the pandemic, the new Social Employment Fund Project aims to leverage a growth sector in the economy: agriculture.
The sector grew by 13.1% in 2020 and continued to grow in 2021 closing the third quarter at 15%. The Social Employment Fund Project (SEF Project) aims to further strengthen the sector with Solidaridad as an implementing partner in the project managed by Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.
The project works to increase productivity and worker income within farm enterprises, which in turn fuels job creation that provides valuable work experience and increases food security.
Solidaridad’s past progress on decent work
These are just a few of the most recent examples of Solidaridad’s efforts to ensure decent work around the world. But there are many more!
Solidaridad’s PanameriCaña programme promotes good agricultural practices in sugar including an adoption of the Water.Shade.Rest protocol to safeguard the health of workers and reduce heat-related illnesses that could lead to kidney damage. The preventive management of the health and safety of agricultural workers is fundamental in ensuring progress toward decent work and social justice for all employees in the sugarcane sector.
Responsible Recruitment Guidelines for the Mexican Sugarcane sector
Solidaridad collaborated with mills in the Mexican sugarcane sector to develop an integrated guide for responsible recruitment (in Spanish). These documents establish clear guidelines and basic standards for the recruitment of agricultural workers and results in a safer working environment for sugarcane workers.
Leading the National Interpretation of Palm Oil Sustainability Standards:
Solidaridad led the process of National Interpretation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Principles & Criteria in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in 2020. The effort afforded multiple stakeholders the opportunity to openly discuss challenges associated with sustainable palm oil production in each country. Included among the topics that improve sustainable production, workers’ rights must be respected to maintain balance and harmony in an area as important as oil palm.
Key partner in establishing AgroFair
In 1996, Solidaridad established AgroFair, a company dedicated to importing and distributing fresh fruit, and co-owned by producers and workers in Africa and Latin America. AgroFair has become a market pioneer in production and distribution of organic and Fairtrade bananas, pineapples, other fruits and vegetables.
The First Fair Trade labeled products
Solidaridad founded the Max Havelaar Foundation in 1988 and launched the first fair trade label for sustainable coffee, which helped spark the global fair trade movement.