Sustainable Food Guide
|Environmental Practice at Work © 2005|
|What is a Fair Wage?... |
A fair wage is when workers are paid at least their country's minimum wage. However this can be very low and not provide a 'living' wage. A living wage enables them to cover basic needs, including food, shelter, education and health care for their families.
The international Fairtrade Foundation exists to ensure a better deal for disadvantaged and marginalised third world producers. Fair trade organisations ensure decent wages, the right to join a trade union, compliance with minimum health and safety standards, no child or forced labour.
Fair trade organisations bypass exploitative middlepeople and work directly with small farmer producers. They can cut costs and return a greater percentage of the retail price to the producers. Internationally agreed Fair trade criteria include ensuring a price is paid to farmers that covers the costs of sustainable production and living; and buyers pay a 'premium' that producers can invest in development.
Fair trade encourages development, sustainable production practices, the continuous improvement of working conditions and investment in the welfare of workers.
Fairtrade coffee is growing from 5% of UK coffee in 1999 to 12% in 2002. There are nearly 200 coffee cooperatives representing 700,000 farmers (about 1 in 10) signed up to the guarnteed prices that Fairtrade provides.