The sweet smell of exploitation‏

the sweet smell of exploitation‏

the sweet smell of exploitation‏

Meya Nasille

Meya Nasille

Supermarkets profit, while flower workers toil for 16 pence an hour

We use flowers to mark every occasion. Last Sunday hundreds of thousands headed to the supermarkets to buy the perfect bouquet for Mother’s Day. But the flowers we bought are likely to have been produced by a woman being exploited on a flower plantation somewhere in the developing world.

In fact, thousands of women in Zambia and Colombia are being forced to work 15 hours a day, 6 days a week, for as little as 16 pence an hour, to supply flowers for UK supermarkets.

Meya works on a flower farm in Zambia. In the lead up to Mother’s Day, she was forced to work longer and longer hours to meet the demand from supermarkets.

UK supermarkets have codes of conduct which state that workers should be provided with protective wear to prevent harmful exposure to pesticides. But Meya has never been given any form of protective clothing. Women exposed to pesticides without adequate protection often report sickness, including swollen legs, backache, vomiting and chest pains. Worse still, Meya is being paid just 16 pence an hour. This is not enough to cover even her basic living costs.

War on Want is working with grassroots organisations that directly support workers such as Meya. For example their partner in Zambia has won real improvements in conditions on several farms, including the provision of protective wear and a stricter adherence to working hours, with overtime properly compensated. But there are still thousands of workers toiling for poverty wages.

Green beans from Kenya. Waterways polluted.

Many are now being kicked off their land by Big Business, the land then used to grow bio-fuels.

Land that first and foremost should be used to grow food by local farmers for local people, not cash crops that benefit the few.

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