Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants reads: “The right of peasants and other people working in rural areas to decent employment and adequate remuneration”. In agricultural value chains, the reality is different: Wage dumping, inhumane and exploitative working conditions, low prices and competitive pressure. An agricultural trade supposed to adhere to principles of justice includes a pricing system that takes fair wages into account, not only in the global South, but also in Europe. The event offers socio-ethical guidance on the importance of decent work and income for shaping sustainable agricultural trade and fair prices. Changing perspectives of the experience from the global South and Germany, it will be discussed which political options must be used to eliminate and prevent exploitative labour relations in value chains, which responsibilities political and economic stakeholders (including the WTO and the ILO) have to take, and which measures are necessary at European level to make sure the next Common Agricultural Policy promotes development and is coherent in terms of employment policy.
Catholic Movement of the Rural People
International Rural Development Service
German Commission Justitia et Pax
In all ihren Ausprägungen ist menschliche Arbeit essentiell für die Wahrung und Achtung der Würde des Menschen und ein Ausdruck des sozialen Lebens. Das gilt für Arbeit in der Landwirtschaft ebenso wie in anderen Sektoren der Wirtschaft.
Zu einer menschenwürdigen Arbeit gehört eine gerechte und menschenwürdige Entlohnung, die es dem arbeitenden Menschen und seiner Familie erlaubt, am wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Leben der Gesellschaft teilzuhaben und frei zu sein von Armut und Not.
In der Landwirtschaft werden diese Prinzipien oft vernachlässigt und damit auch das Recht auf Nahrung beeinträchtigt. Landwirtschaftliche Lieferketten (Wertschöpfungsketten) bestimmen heutzutage maßgeblich die Agrarhandelsbeziehungen zwischen den Ländern des globalen Südens und des Nordens. Ein Agrarhandel, der auf Gerechtigkeitsprinzipien beruht, braucht einen Ordnungsrahmen, der auch die Sozial- und arbeitsrechtlichen Standards berücksichtigt.
Vor allem braucht es die Stärkung der Stimme der Arbeitenden entlang dieser Wertschöpfungsketten.
It is widely acknowledged that farm workers are largely unorganised in South Africa. This lack of collective capacity negatively impacts their ability to advance core labour rights in line with the country’s Constitution and to advance decent work in the sector, as set out by the International Labour Organisation. In addition, the labour relations framework on commercial farms in South Africa is largely antagonistic with profound power imbalances, in favour of employers. Power imbalances in the employment relationship reflect the lack of collective bargaining and adversarial labour relations indicate the absence of social dialogue. Both collective bargaining and social dialogue in the employment relations are key tenets of the international decent work programme. Deficits in decent work take multiple forms and are widespread in the agricultural sector in South Africa, which is similar to the position experienced by a growing number of precarious workers globally. This presentation,based on ECARP’s work, therefore, mirrors the plight of unorganised or weakly organised workers in global value chainsacross economic sectors.
The deficit in decent work raises pertinent questions on the structure of global value chains and production networks, bringing intosharpfocus the distribution of power in value chains, among and between workers,employers, retailers, exporters, consumers and others. A core aspect of this focus means looking at and asking questions about the roles that socio-political actors and agencies such as the European Union, the World Trade Organisation, the private sector and consumers in the Global North(and South)play in perpetuating and even creating decent work deficits for low-waged workers across the Global. In this light, the presentation focusses on the conditions of agricultural workers in the South African context, specifically the Eastern Cape where a historical deficit of decent work dominates the agricultural labour market and where agricultural producers are firmly linked to global markets as importers of inputs and intermediary material and exporters of final produce, with two aims: (1) raising the significance of shifting mind-set in the direction of a “socio-ethical orientation” towards production and trade, and (2) encourage questions on the role that statutory bodies, the private sector and consumers in the North have in paving the way for a socio-ethical orientation that makes the pillars of decent work possible for workers.
In charting an alternative orientation towards production and global trade between Northern and Southern countries, it is criticalto take account of concrete conditions, for example ECARP’s work, against the background of EU-ACP, EU-AU, and similar agreements. In this regard, civil society organisationsand consumer bodiesin the Global North and South,with a keen and committed interest in decent work along global value chains, can begin to explore collaborative work, research and lobbying at international, regional and national levels.It is as important to probe the implementation of private sector protocols such as GLOBALG.A.Pand EuropeGAPin 2securing decent work along value chains.Collective engagements and efforts to foster decent work in global value chains are necessary todemocratise value chains and address low wages and sub-standard working and living conditions of labour. Such initiatives may also stimulatevibrant and sustainable economic production and will certainly prevent a race to the bottom.
Lali is the director of the East Cape Agricultural Research Project. She has done extensive research on agrarian transformation issues and engages in social mobilisation, lobbying and policy inputs on a wide range of critical areas pertaining to the agrarian political economy in South Africa. Lali’s work spans areas that include labour, land and gender rights in the agrarian political economy, as well as food sovereignty and food systems.
Lali and the team she leads at ECARP developed a grass roots approach to strengthen social networks and democratic organisations among indigent farm workers and dwellers and small-scale farmers to amplify their voices in the agrarian political economy. And she works centrally in the decent work in agriculture programme formally launched by ECARP and partners at a provincial Labour Summit in August 2018.
Dr. Leonard Mizzi is Head of Unit at the European Commission, Directorate-General (DG) for International Cooperation and Development – Rural development, food security and nutrition, since 1st of January 2017. Prior to this post he was Head of Unit for 10 years in DG Agriculture and Rural Development, first in charge of agri trade and development issues (2007-2014) and from 2015-2016 leading the inter institutional unit hence relations with the European Parliament, Council and consultative bodies and well as steering the Civil Dialogue Groups.
He is a graduate in Public Administration from the University of Malta (BA Hons First Class); and has degrees from CIHEAM-Montpellier (Master of Science) and a Ph.D in Agricultural economics from the University of Reading (UK). He has been an author of a number of articles and publications on agri food issues and nutrition in the Mediterranean region.
Dr. Mizzi has a broad working experience in the Maltese public administration and the Maltese private sector. He first worked in the Economic Planning Division of the Office of the Prime Minister (Malta) and from 1996-2006 was the first Director of the Malta Business Bureau in Brussels- the office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.
He was also visiting lecturer at the Boston University (Brussels campus), Open University and Malta University. He often lectures at the College of Europe in Bruges.
His areas of specialisation are global food security governance, agriculture and food and nutrition security, the Mediterranean and Sub Saharan Africa.
Unfortunately, this information is only available in German.