Fairtrade Supports Workers

Farm and factory workers are among the most vulnerable in supply chains. We support workers’ right to collective bargaining and fair working conditions.

The Problem

Workers often have few options for sustainable livelihoods. At best, most workers lack formal contracts, freedom of association, and basic health and safety precautions, coupled with low wages. At worst, many are vulnerable to other abuses such as human trafficking or debt bondage.

Fairtrade's Approach to Workers' Rights

We encourage worker participation across all aspects of a business, by promoting collaboration between employees and managers based on mutual trust, respect and consistent dialogue. We believe that owners must incorporate worker participation not just in discussions of wages and work conditions, but in sustainability and productivity solutions.

Fairtrade supports workers through the Hired Labor Standard, applying to all producer organizations employing regular workers. Currently, this encompasses 340,000 hired workers around the world. Under the Standard, organizations must ensure that workers receive a fairer share of the economic benefits. They must also provide employment conditions that include wages, leave, social security and formal contracts. The most important aspect of the standard is workers’ freedom of association – meaning union rights and collective bargaining. Fairtrade works with Worker Committees to ensure that they have autonomy and adequate training to democratically allocate the Fairtrade Premium.

Read more about the Fairtrade Hired Labor Standard.  

Fairtrade collaborates with existing trade unions and labor conventions to create supportive systems for workers, rather than duplicating efforts. In addition to collective bargaining, we view living wage as essential to individual empowerment for workers. In 2014, Fairtrade commissioned a living wage methodology for the regions we operate in to ensure that payments and premiums are in line with what workers need to survive and thrive. Our mission is to support workers in improving their livelihoods in a positive, supportive environment.

Read the Fairtrade Labor Strategy here.