Fyffes Announces Melon Business Transformation in Honduras
To demonstrate a more responsible, ethical, and environmentally positive melon business in Honduras, multinational fruit company Fyffes and its subsidiary Sol Group publish the initial results of its melon business transformation in this country, led by its new local management that prioritizes working conditions, community participation, and improvement, environmental management, as well as sound corporate governance.
The first step for the transformation was the appointment of a new general manager for Sol Group, Genivaldo Pereira, in October 2021. This was followed by the incorporation of a new operations manager in Honduras, Reginaldo de Lima, as well as new managers of compliance, human resources, sustainability, labour, and farm relations. With the support of Fyffes executive leadership, the new management team has made major changes and improvements to Fyffes melon operations in Honduras, including:
- Risk assessments, analysis, and standardization of procedures and tasks to ensure the safety and fairness of workers, as well as performance.
- Large-scale investment in the training and upgrading of workers in the new operating procedures.
- Provision of correct personal protective equipment for all workers.
- Elimination of the system of hiring seasonal workers through foremen and establishment of a new hiring protocol with the supervision of the human resources department.
- Disposal of 12,000 tons of plastic, containers, and other agricultural waste accumulated on farms over the years, creating risks to health and safety, as well as to the environment.
- In 2022, Suragroh (one of Sol Group’s companies in Honduras) carried out its first External Evaluation IndicaRSE with the Honduran Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility (FUNDAHRSE).
- Although Honduran labor law requires companies to pay social security for seasonal workers, in practice workers do not generally receive this benefit from the Department of Labor and Social Security. To mitigate this situation, local management agreed with the Base Unions to pay temporary workers a bonus of approximately 80% of the social security payment.
- Five medical clinics are available on or near the company’s farms that have five full-time doctors, five ambulances, and four nurses hired during the peak season.
- In 2022 the Community Medical Brigades were introduced to provide medical care to 1,000 people from 15 communities during the off-season.
- The company also offers the opportunity for additional income to temporary workers through a corn-growing program during the off-season.
- A Community Needs Assessment was carried out in Choluteca, near the company’s melon farms, to identify the most important and urgent areas of community investment.
- As a result, several community investment projects were initiated in 2022:
- Melon Flavor Nutrition Program, school donation project that has benefited 138 families.
- Expansion of the Corn Cultivation and Food Security project during the low season, benefiting 202 families.
- Implementation of Fyffes Gender Equality Program, with 1,005 workers who completed the program to support the company’s sustainability goal of ensuring that ‘100% of our own workers in Latin America are trained in gender equality’.
- Safe Return to School Program, which includes the donation of protective equipment and training to prevent COVID-19 in 30 schools, benefiting 6,500 students.
Freedom of Association
- A base union operates at each of Sol Group’s melon farms in Choluteca, and most employees and temporary workers are represented by those unions.
- In April 2022, the base unions concluded their first three-year collective agreement, and their boards of directors also reached the end of their term. In a general assembly, the unions elected new boards of directors, responding to feedback from the international labor rights movement, ensuring that the boards comply with both Honduran labor law and ILO conventions.
- During the last three seasons, the farms have hired members of the Union of Agroindustry and Similar Workers (STAS), a legitimate union but one that does not have subsection status on Sol Grop farms, thus providing freedom of association.
- Training on Honduran labour legislation and ILO conventions was given by a labour expert to the new boards of the base unions that represent both temporary and permanent workers.
Reflecting on the results obtained to date, Genivaldo Pereira comments: “We are pleased with the progress that has been made in the last 12 months. Without a doubt, this is the beginning of a process of continuous improvement in which we are totally committed, not only to continue strengthening our sustainability strategy but also to promoting and strengthening the commercial and economic opportunity for Hondurans in the communities that surround our farms”.