15 March 2001 Edition

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Fair trade bananas

Consumers have a new choice this week when it comes to buying fruit, as Trocaire and the Fairtrade Mark Ireland launched the first bananas to be sold in Ireland with the fairtrade label.

The bananas, from Ghana and Costa Rica, are produced on plantations where workers are shareholders in the estates. In the case of the Ghanaian Volta River Estates plantation, workers are paid twice the minimum wage and are part of a collective bargaining system where this year they secured a 27.5% wage rise.

The Volta River plantation has also reduced the chemical input into the banana growing process by 80%. Coopetrabasur, Fairtrade's Costa Rican banana growing cooperative, has also reduced its use of chemicals.

Trocaire Director Justin Kilcullen described the fair trade logo as ``being the only independent guarantee of a better deal for Third World producers''.

The Fairtrade label bananas will sold in Dunnes Stores, Superquinn and Supervalu stores around the state.

Low wage costs

Sometimes you could be forgiven for believing the hype from the ESRI, the Central Bank and most particularly the department of Finance that wage costs in the 26 Counties are spiraling out of control.

However, an EU statistical report published this week shows that wage costs in the 26 Counties are among the lowest in the EU. Of the 15 EU states only Portugal, Spain and Greece have lower average labour costs than the 26 Counties. Labour Costs in the 26 Counties are also lower than the US average.

So next time we have to listen to the dire wage warnings of Charlie McCreevy maybe we will recognise them for what they really are - bluster and hype.

An Phoblacht
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