6th March 1998

World’s largest fruit and vegetable grower implicated in child labour in the Philippines

Brussels. March 6. 1998 (ICFTU OnLine): Trade union investigations have revealed the use of child labour on banana plantations which supply Stanfilco, a Philippine subsidiary of Dole Food Company, the world’s largest grower and supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF) has photographic evidence on its web site of nine and eleven-year-old children working on the Soyapa Farms banana plantation. One photographs shows a nine-year-old boy who works two hours before school and four hours afterwards, while another shows an eleven year-old girl working six hours a day for just over one dollar cutting dead leaves which have been sprayed with toxic pesticides. Both children work up to 11 hours on Saturday.

This evidence is all the more shocking as Dole promotes itself having a dedication to the safety of our workers, communities and the environment. as well as being a ‘leader in nutrition education for children, working in collaboration with many of the nation’s leading health authorities to teach students the value of healthy eating habits.’ In addition it has produced a CD-ROM in which ‘Bobby Banana’ comes to life for an interactive session with the children to excite them about nutrition (according to Dole Food Company’s web page).