Chapter 6: Global labor politics and fair trade
During 2014 Fairtrade International adopted its revised Standard for Hired Labor. In this chapter I argue that Fairtrade International and global unions furthered their engagement as a result of this process but that their relationship has not yet reached the level of sustained global social dialogue or institutionalized industrial relations. Significant foundations have been built but important challenges need to be met. In the first part I outline the process that has led to its most recent revision and the scope of the Standard. In the second part I discuss global labor’s engagement with Fairtrade International. In the subsequent three parts I discuss, respectively, three core issues: international labor standards, employee organizations and the challenge of regulating the whole production network. These issues are at the heart of the discussions between unions and Fairtrade International. I close with some suggestions for deepening this engagement in the direction of global social dialogue and ‘mature industrial relations’. Fairtrade International’s predecessors certified a tea plantation as far back as 1994. This commitment eventually led to a comprehensive Standard for Hired Labor. In 2010 the organization decided to review this Standard ‘with this fundamental question in mind: How can Fairtrade best deliver on its mission to empower workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control of their lives?’ (Fairtrade International 2014b).
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