212985 Social and Environmental Certification Schemes and Working Conditions in Ecuadorian Floriculture

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Homero Harari, MSc , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Susan Woskie, PhD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Flower production is the third most important economic activity in Ecuador. The United States imports around 60% of such production, mostly in roses. Due to the concerns of consumers about working conditions and pesticide use in flower plantations, voluntary social and environmental (“Green”) certification schemes have been developed mainly by private organizations and unions in consumer countries to assure that the production of the flowers includes respect for the workers and the environment.

A survey study was conducted among plantation workers to learn how voluntary certification schemes contribute to social, environmental and working conditions in certified plantations compared with non-certified plantations.

Results show that working conditions in certified “Green label” plantations do not differ greatly from non-certified plantations. Additionally it was found that some certified plantations do not comply with their certification guidelines. For example, some certified plantations still use pesticides that are listed as prohibited in the certification guidelines. Also, even though the ILO Convention 87 and 98 regarding Freedom of Association is listed under the certification guidelines of some certifications schemes, only 2 out of 52 certified plantations have a union However, improved working conditions were noted when plantations had a union.

The results of this study show that currently the consumer is not getting what they are paying for with environmental and social certifications. More research needs to be done to determine how to develop a transparent system that will improve workplace health and safety and protect the environment in Ecuador's floriculture industry.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the social and environmental certifications in Ecuadorian floriculture Discuss their usefulness to improve working conditions

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Occupational Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Experience and education
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.