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Hen housing trade offs: Food safety, workers and consumers

As it turns out, the food stores and restaurant chains promising to sell only cage-free eggs by some date in the future and egg producers have been doing their due diligence when it comes to the housing of laying hens.

Recently released findings of the Laying Hen Housing Research Project by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply looks at the advantages and disadvantages of three types of hen housing in five areas:

  • chickensonrun_406x250

    Cage-free does not mean the same thing as free range.

    animal health and well-being;

  • food safety and quality;
  • environmental impact;
  • worker health and safety; and
  • food affordability.

The three housing types included in the study were conventional cages that are also called battery cages, enriched colony set ups, and cage-free aviary operations. The research was conducted over two years and involved two flocks living in type of each housing system.

Hens in all the housing systems shed Salmonella at similar rates and the prevalence of Salmonella associated with egg shells was low and did not differ between housing systems, according to the researchers.

The highest environmental microbial levels were found in the aviary system litter area and on the enriched system scratch pad. Aviary floor eggs also had significantly higher levels of microorganisms that other types of eggs sampled.

batterycage_406x250

This is an example of a battery cage egg operation.

Housing systems did not influence the rate of egg quality decline though 12 weeks of extended storage and U.S. egg quality standards and grades were found to be adequate for all three housing systems.

The coalition — led by McDonald’s, Cargill Kitchen Solutions, the American Humane Association, Michigan State University, the University of California-Davis and the Center for Food Integrity — also found housing types did not result in differences in the immune systems of hens or the effectiveness of their Salmonella vaccinations.

Aviary forage areas and scratch pads in enriched colonies had the highest levels of total aerobes and coliform. Aviary floor eggs had the highest total aerobes and coliform levels.

The researchers also found the dry belt manure removal system impeded the detention of Campylobacter spp.

“It’s important to note that management practices likely had the greatest influence on environmental and off shell microbiology,” said the researchers. They said egg quality was not effected by the housing type, but hen dietary nutritional changes did make a difference.

In findings outside the food safety concerns, the study found cage-free aviary eggs would cost consumers 36 percent more than conventional battery cages. Enriched systems would cost 14 percent more than conventional.

The higher costs are driven by higher feed, labor, pullet and capital costs.

Worker health and safety is another major downside for cage free systems. The study found workers were exposed to significantly higher concentrations of airborne particles and endotoxin — toxic components of bacteria — when working in aviary houses than in conventional or enriched houses.

Workers tasked with gathering eggs from floors also faced “ergonomic challenges” in addition to respiratory hazards.

The research focused on indoor only systems because those are the most commonly used in commercial egg production.

All housing types were studied at the same location, a farm in the Midwest. Funding came from the Center for Food Integrity, which provided about $ 3 million each for MSU and UC-Davis. The conventional housing accommodated about 200,000 hens while the aviary and enriched units each housed 50,000 hens.

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Food Safety News

Could “Comic Contracts” help protect vulnerable workers?

South African group Indigo Fruit Growers thinks they can.

The company, which produces, packs and supplies ClemenGold mandarins to local and international markets, developed the concept in a bid to make contracts easier to understand for farmworkers.

The registered idea Comic Contracts was originally put forward by Robert de Rooy, a South African lawyer based in Cape Town and legal counsel for ClemenGold for many years. Comic Contract

The concept uses visualization to improve the understanding of contractual terms: the parties are represented by characters and illustrations are used to explain the terms of the contract.

The company said the contracts challenge the “taken-for-granted assumption” that only text can capture the terms of a contract”, by using mainly pictures instead of words for a binding agreement.

“It is based on the fact that pictures are easier to understand and easier to remember. The purpose of a Comic Contract is to empower the parties to understand each other, to understand what they expect from each other, and what they are committing to,” de Rooy said in a release.

Indigo Fruit Growers said the contracts were especially designed to address the needs of vulnerable employees: employees who either cannot read well or have difficulties understanding the language in which the contract is written.

Whilst the legal system requires that all employees have an employment contract, it assumes that everyone can read proficiently and understand the contractual terms presented to them.

However, the company claimed this was rarely the case in South Africa, especially in sectors employing low-skill workers such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and domestic work.

“The way in which most contracts are drafted and presented (‘this is standard, sign it or leave it’) does not support a good relationship. Most employees don’t read it, nor would they be able to understand it if they tried,” de Rooy said, adding the situation perpetuated the power imbalance between employers and employees.

The release said under these circumstances employees were bound to terms which they don’t understand, couldn’t live up to, and could not use to hold their employers accountable, which meant misunderstanding and conflict in the workplace should come as no surprise.

“We are really excited about the transparency this contract brings to our employee relations,” said ANB Investments CEO Abs van Rooyen, whose company owns Indigo.

“It creates a more equitable situation, which can only be the start of a more ‘honest’ relationship with our employees. I believe that workers can only commit fully to the content of a contract if they understand what they are signing.”

Indigo recently initiated the implementation of the Comic Contracts, which were first presented to 50 fruit pickers who had previously worked for Indigo. Indigo. Following the successful induction of these 50 workers, the contract was presented the next day to a further 163 fruit-pickers.

“The feedback was positive. No picker asked for the old contract,” said farm manager Faan Kruger.

“Although everything was new and there were many questions, the process went much faster than with a traditional contract.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

 

FreshFruitPortal.com

Pickets protest UNFI treatment of workers

Picket lines marched outside the annual meeting of United Natural Foods Inc. Wednesday to protest alleged mistreatment of workers who have opted to join the teamsters union at a distribution facility in Moreno Valley, Calif.

The protesters “put management on notice” that continued worker abuse and intimidation will not be tolerated, according to a press release issued by the teamsters, whose members participated in the protests.

Representatives of UNFI, based in Providence, R.I.,  could not be reached for comment. The annual meeting was held in Sacramento, Calif., the home city for Tony’s Fine Foods, a specialty foods distributor UNFI acquired in May.

According to the teamstrs, UNFI has “intimidated, threatened and fired workers” at the Moreno Valley facility for trying to join a union, even though the union was federally certified in November as the union for truck drivers at the warehouse.

Steve Vairma, teamsters warehouse division director, said in a statement “UNFI runs roughshod over its employees’ fundamental freedom of association and their protected concerted activity and bargaining rights.”


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Organizing director for Teamsters Local 63 in Covina, Calif., Randy Korgan, said in a statement, “It seems that whether 35% or 65% of a group of workers at a UNFI warehouse or truck yard join together as a union, UNFI management shows them zero respect and treats them all with the same level of contempt and denial and heavy-handed tactics.” 

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Shoppers Food workers approve new contract

Union workers at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy have voted to ratify a new three-year contract, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 said Tuesday.

The new deal increases wages and maintains health and retirement security, the union said.

The contract culminates “a difficult round of bargaining that required multiple extensions of the old agreement to resolve complex issues, many of which revolved around increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act,” the union said.

“The workers’ success was due to a sustained campaign that mobilized support from Shoppers customers and the community, with members of the bargaining advisory committee visiting every store in the area,” Local 400 president Mark P. Federici said. “Because our Shoppers members stayed strong throughout this challenging process, they won a collective bargaining agreement that improves their standard of living and keeps their comprehensive health and pension benefits.

“This is a solid contract that compares well to others in the industry, and it’s testimony to the power of member activism. It also gives our members one more thing to be thankful for two days from now.”

Key provisions of the contract include:

• Guaranteed wage increases of up to 90 cents/hour over three years, with all of the agreement’s financial benefits coming in the form of permanent raises rather than one-time bonuses.

• Increased employer contributions to fully fund pension benefits.


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• Health care maintenance of benefits, which ensures that Shoppers will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.

• Spouses will continue to be covered under the health benefit plan.

• Overtime will continue to be paid for work exceeding eight hours in any day.

• Sunday will continue to be treated as separate from the basic work week.

“Our task now is to move forward from here,” Federici said. “We will remain vigilant to ensure that the contract is fully enforced and we will work together with Shoppers to expand the company’s share of the market in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.” The collective bargaining agreement, which affects 2,500 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, takes effect retroactively as of July 13, 2014, and it expires on July 8, 2017.

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Shoppers Food workers approve new contract

Union workers at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy have voted to ratify a new three-year contract, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 said Tuesday.

The new deal increases wages and maintains health and retirement security, the union said.

The contract culminates “a difficult round of bargaining that required multiple extensions of the old agreement to resolve complex issues, many of which revolved around increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act,” the union said.

“The workers’ success was due to a sustained campaign that mobilized support from Shoppers customers and the community, with members of the bargaining advisory committee visiting every store in the area,” Local 400 president Mark P. Federici said. “Because our Shoppers members stayed strong throughout this challenging process, they won a collective bargaining agreement that improves their standard of living and keeps their comprehensive health and pension benefits.

“This is a solid contract that compares well to others in the industry, and it’s testimony to the power of member activism. It also gives our members one more thing to be thankful for two days from now.”

Key provisions of the contract include:

• Guaranteed wage increases of up to 90 cents/hour over three years, with all of the agreement’s financial benefits coming in the form of permanent raises rather than one-time bonuses.

• Increased employer contributions to fully fund pension benefits.


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• Health care maintenance of benefits, which ensures that Shoppers will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.

• Spouses will continue to be covered under the health benefit plan.

• Overtime will continue to be paid for work exceeding eight hours in any day.

• Sunday will continue to be treated as separate from the basic work week.

“Our task now is to move forward from here,” Federici said. “We will remain vigilant to ensure that the contract is fully enforced and we will work together with Shoppers to expand the company’s share of the market in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.” The collective bargaining agreement, which affects 2,500 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, takes effect retroactively as of July 13, 2014, and it expires on July 8, 2017.

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Supermarket News

Shoppers Food workers approve new contract

Union workers at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy have voted to ratify a new three-year contract, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 said Tuesday.

The new deal increases wages and maintains health and retirement security, the union said.

The contract culminates “a difficult round of bargaining that required multiple extensions of the old agreement to resolve complex issues, many of which revolved around increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act,” the union said.

“The workers’ success was due to a sustained campaign that mobilized support from Shoppers customers and the community, with members of the bargaining advisory committee visiting every store in the area,” Local 400 president Mark P. Federici said. “Because our Shoppers members stayed strong throughout this challenging process, they won a collective bargaining agreement that improves their standard of living and keeps their comprehensive health and pension benefits.

“This is a solid contract that compares well to others in the industry, and it’s testimony to the power of member activism. It also gives our members one more thing to be thankful for two days from now.”

Key provisions of the contract include:

• Guaranteed wage increases of up to 90 cents/hour over three years, with all of the agreement’s financial benefits coming in the form of permanent raises rather than one-time bonuses.

• Increased employer contributions to fully fund pension benefits.


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Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


• Health care maintenance of benefits, which ensures that Shoppers will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.

• Spouses will continue to be covered under the health benefit plan.

• Overtime will continue to be paid for work exceeding eight hours in any day.

• Sunday will continue to be treated as separate from the basic work week.

“Our task now is to move forward from here,” Federici said. “We will remain vigilant to ensure that the contract is fully enforced and we will work together with Shoppers to expand the company’s share of the market in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.” The collective bargaining agreement, which affects 2,500 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, takes effect retroactively as of July 13, 2014, and it expires on July 8, 2017.

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15 Postal Workers Hospitalized After Eating Potluck Leftovers

At least North Carolina 15 postal workers were taken to the hospital Thursday after consuming food from a Veteran’s Day potluck.

Dozens of employees at a U.S. Post Office on West Pointe Drive in western Mecklenberg County began experiencing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting after eating leftovers from a potluck held Tuesday evening, according to local NBC affiliate WCNC.

The source of the illnesses has yet to be determined. Over 200 people attended the potluck, many of them contributing dishes, which will make the source of the infections hard to trace.

Food from the potluck was refrigerated Tuesday night, and then served again Wednesday, according to WCNC. Some workers complained of stomach pains after eating the leftovers that day.

None of those sickened have a life-threatening illness. 

Food Safety News

W.Va. workers OK new deal with Kroger

Workers at Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky have voted to ratify a new contract.

Members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 said the three-year deal preserves health and retirement security and increases wages.


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“This contract is an improvement,” Local 400 president Mark P. Federic said. “Our members will keep their current health care benefits, with no increase in weekly premiums, and won’t be forced onto the often inferior plans offered through the ACA’s health care exchanges. Kroger will pay their share of benefits in full through the life of the contract, our members’ pensions will be properly funded, and our members will all see pay increases.”

The new agreement takes effect retroactively as of Oct. 15. It expires on Oct. 7, 2017, and covers 4,000 workers.

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California May Soon Require Paid Sick Time for Restaurant Workers and Others

California is poised to become the second state in the country to require paid sick leave for workers, an issue that has serious food safety implications for the restaurant industry.

Under the just-passed legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature (and he has already expressed support), California workers as of July 1, 2015, would be guaranteed at least three paid sick days a year.

More precisely, the bill requires businesses to grant employees one paid hour off for sick time for every 30 hours worked.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement after the bill was passed on Aug. 30. ”This bill guarantees that millions of workers — from Eureka to San Diego — won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

Campaigners for restaurant worker sick pay say that many employees in the restaurant industry are more likely to work while sick if they do not have the privilege of paid sick time. In turn, sick restaurant workers have a higher chance of causing foodborne illnesses due to their contact with food.

In 2010, 88 percent of restaurant workers in a survey reported not receiving paid sick leave, according to Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC). ROC’s report, “Serving While Sick,” also found that 63 percent of workers reported cooking or serving food while sick at some point.

Another ROC report, “Backed into the Corner,” found that 48 percent of restaurant workers in the Miami-Dade area of Florida reported working while sick at some point, with 11 percent saying they experienced diarrhea or vomiting during a work shift. That report also found that workers were twice as likely to work while sick if they did not have paid sick time.

Once the bill is signed, California would be joining the state of Connecticut and cities such as Washington D.C., Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR, in requiring paid time off for illness.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and other business groups have lobbied against paid-sick-time legislation at the state and local level, saying that the one-size-fits-all legislation hurts businesses and threatens jobs.

Groups, including the NRA, have successfully helped pass laws to prevent new local paid-sick-leave legislation in 12 states.

Food Safety News

Raw Milk is Ongoing Hazard, CDC Warns Public Health Workers

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention sent a letter to state and territorial public health officials with information and resources on the risks of consuming raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products.

Raw milk is a recognized source of severe infections from pathogens such as E. coli O157, Campylobacter and Salmonella, but pasteurization prevents infections.

“Adherence to good hygienic practices during milking can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of milk contamination,” states the May 9 letter signed by Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases. “Pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria.”

It’s not just CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommending that all animal milk be pasteurized. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians agree.

Pasteurization of milk became routine in the U.S. starting in the 1920s and was widespread by 1950. Transporting raw milk across state lines to sell directly to consumers is prohibited today, but it is available within many states.

“CDC data shows that the rate of raw milk-associated outbreaks is 2.2 times higher in states in which the sale of raw milk is legal compared with states where sale of raw milk is illegal,” reads Tauxe’s letter.

According to the CDC National Outbreak Reporting System, between 2007 and 2012, there were 81 outbreaks of infections due to consumption of raw milk, resulting in 979 illnesses. In addition, 59 percent of the outbreaks involved at least one person under the age of five.

Most infections were caused by Campylobacter, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or Salmonella bacteria, which come from cattle that appear healthy. Severe, long-term consequences of these infections include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, and Guillan-Barré syndrome, which can result in paralysis.

“To protect the health of the public, state regulators should continue to support pasteurization and consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in their states,” Tauxe wrote.

Click here to read the full letter and see the list of resources for consumers,  public health officials and health care providers.

Food Safety News

Raw Milk is Ongoing Hazard, CDC Warns Public Health Workers

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention sent a letter to state and territorial public health officials with information and resources on the risks of consuming raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products.

Raw milk is a recognized source of severe infections from pathogens such as E. coli O157, Campylobacter and Salmonella, but pasteurization prevents infections.

“Adherence to good hygienic practices during milking can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of milk contamination,” states the May 9 letter signed by Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases. “Pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria.”

It’s not just CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommending that all animal milk be pasteurized. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians agree.

Pasteurization of milk became routine in the U.S. starting in the 1920s and was widespread by 1950. Transporting raw milk across state lines to sell directly to consumers is prohibited today, but it is available within many states.

“CDC data shows that the rate of raw milk-associated outbreaks is 2.2 times higher in states in which the sale of raw milk is legal compared with states where sale of raw milk is illegal,” reads Tauxe’s letter.

According to the CDC National Outbreak Reporting System, between 2007 and 2012, there were 81 outbreaks of infections due to consumption of raw milk, resulting in 979 illnesses. In addition, 59 percent of the outbreaks involved at least one person under the age of five.

Most infections were caused by Campylobacter, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or Salmonella bacteria, which come from cattle that appear healthy. Severe, long-term consequences of these infections include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, and Guillan-Barré syndrome, which can result in paralysis.

“To protect the health of the public, state regulators should continue to support pasteurization and consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in their states,” Tauxe wrote.

Click here to read the full letter and see the list of resources for consumers,  public health officials and health care providers.

Food Safety News

Kroger Atlanta workers OK new deal

Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.-area Kroger members from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1996 ratified a new three-year contract that will phase out insurance coverage for spouses.


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The new contract is retroactive from March 16, and expires on March 18, 2017. The agreement includes wage increases over the course of the agreement, affordable healthcare, and secures pension funds for workers, the Cincinnati-based retailer said. The contract covers 23,600 workers across 163 stores in Atlanta and 12 in Savannah.

Workers last month voted to reject an initial contract offer from Kroger. Local 1996 president Steve Lomax in a letter to workers said increased costs resulting from how the Affordable Care Act treats Taft-Hartley plans resulted in “hard choices” for the union. Given the choice of either discontinuing coverage for members who worked less than 30 hours a week or discontinuing spousal coverage under the plan, the union ultimately selected the latter, with spousal coverage to end by the end of the year.

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Publisher’s Platform: Time to Vaccinate Restaurant Workers Against Hepatitis A

In the past few days, from a Papa John’s in North Carolina to the La Fontana suburban New York restaurant to a Moose Jaw bar, Hepatitis A warnings are being issued due to an ill worker putting customers at risk.

Hardly a month passes without a warning from a health department somewhere that an infected food handler is the source of yet another potential Hepatitis A outbreak. Absent vaccinations of food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous hand-washing policy, there will continue to be more Hepatitis A outbreaks. It is time for health departments across the country to require vaccinations of food-service workers, especially those who serve the very young and the elderly.

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads from person-to-person. It is spread almost exclusively through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or via contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is the only foodborne illness that is vaccine-preventable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since the inception of the vaccine, rates of infection have declined 92 percent.

CDC estimate that 83,000 cases of Hepatitis A occur in the United States every year, and that many of these cases are related to food-borne transmission. In 1999, more than 10,000 people were hospitalized due to Hepatitis A infections, and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became sickened, four died, and nearly 10,000 people got IG (immunoglobulin) shots after eating at a Pennsylvania restaurant. Not only do customers get sick, but also businesses lose customers or some simply go out of business.

Although CDC has not yet called for mandatory vaccination of food-service workers, it has repeatedly pointed out that the consumption of worker-contaminated food is a major cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.

Hepatitis A continues to be one of the most frequently reported, vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S., despite FDA approval of Hepatitis A vaccine in 1995. Widespread vaccination of appropriate susceptible populations would substantially lower disease incidence and potentially eliminate indigenous transmission of Hepatitis A infections. Vaccinations cost about $ 50. The major economic reason that these preventive shots have not been used is because of the high turnover rate of food-service employees. Eating out becomes a whole lot less of a gamble if all food-service workers faced the same requirement.

According to CDC, the costs associated with Hepatitis A are substantial. Between 11 percent and 22 percent of persons who have Hepatitis A are hospitalized. Adults who become ill lose an average of 27 days of work. Health departments incur substantial costs in providing post-exposure prophylaxis to an average of 11 contacts per case. Average costs (direct and indirect) of Hepatitis A range from $ 1,817 to $ 2,459 per case for adults and from $ 433 to $ 1,492 per case for children younger than 18. In 1989, the estimated annual direct and indirect costs of Hepatitis A in the U.S. were more than $ 200 million, equivalent to more than $ 300 million in 1997 dollars.  A new CDC report shows that, in 2010, slightly more than 10 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 49 got a Hepatitis A shot.

Vaccinating an employee make sense.  It is moral to protect customers from an illness that can cause serious illness and death. Vaccines also protect the business from the multi-million-dollar fallout that can come if people become ill or if thousands are forced to stand in line to be vaccinated to prevent a more serious problem.

Food Safety News

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

A group of banana workers blocked the entrances and exits of the Legislative Assembly yesterday for at least an hour.

The move came after the workers had waited until 7pm for the hearing of Bill 18.802, which aims to provide direct compensation to workers affected by the pesticide Nemagon, a pesticide which was commonly used on banana plantations and which causes a number of diseases, most commonly sterility in men. The bill was scheduled to be read yesterday, but by 7pm the group began to grow angry as it became apparent that the bill would not be heard by the end of the day.

Shortly after 7pm, the workers began blocking the entrances and exits to the Legislative Assembly, preventing lawmakers from leaving.  The situation continued for about an hour, until security forces arrived at the scene and dispersed the workers.

“We have been asking for this bill since July 2003,” a spokesperson for the workers told the daily Diario Extra, who said he has suffered health problems as a result of his exposure to Nemagon.  The man added that medical examinations – apparently to determine sterility – by the National Insurance Institute (INS), which has provided compensation to some workers, are “inhuman.”

Nemagon was banned in the United States in 1979 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined the pesticide was a carcinogen and caused sterility in male mammals, including humans.

The pesticide is also known to contaminate groundwater, even years after its use is discontinued. Human exposure comes as a result of inhalation, skin contact, or from contaminated drinking water. Besides causing sterility, Nemagon, also known as DBCP, has been determined to be one of the most powerful cancer-inducing agents, even in low doses.

In Nicaragua, where DBCP use has also been widespread, 67% of male banana workers are sterile, while 33% of female banana workers have uterus or breast cancer. Other workers suffer from cancer of the testicles, stomach, and kidneys.

Costa Rica ranks far ahead of any country in the world in its use of pesticides – more than double number two Colombia, according to rankings by the World Resources Institute. 

Source: insidecostarica.com

Publication date: 4/2/2014


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Europe: Better circumstances for seasonal workers

Europe: Better circumstances for seasonal workers

For seasonal workers from the third world better working and living circumstances apply in the European Union, as announced on the German website Fruchthandel.de. The European Parliament confirmed an agreement with the European Council and the European Commission.

The workers are entitled to, amongst others things, a fitting shelter and a set limit of the maximum number of working hours. At the same time the new regulations must prevent temporary stays becoming permanent ones. The member states can decide for themselves how many third world people will be allowed into their country. Each government, however, will have to record the maximum period seasonal workers may stay, which is between five and nine months each twelve months period. Within this period seasonal workers can renew their contracts or change to other employers. Everybody willing to come to the EU must supply a valid contract of work or a binding offer of employment, in which offered workd and salary are recorded. When shelter is supplied by or organised via the employer the rent is not allowed to be excessively high or be deducted automatically from the wages of the employee.

Publication date: 2/17/2014


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Chilean port workers end strike after new agreement

Chilean port workers end strike after new agreement

Around 1,500 Chilean port workers returned to work Wednesday, two days after they walked out due to management’s failure to comply with the terms of an accord ending a three-week-long nationwide dock strike, union leaders said.

Members of the FTP union at the busy port of San Antonio halted work on Monday after the port’s operator, Puerto Central, declined to live up to the agreement brokered last weekend by Chile’s government.

But the FTP’s leaders subsequently signed an accord with Puerto Central manager Rodrigo Olea to bring the job action to a halt for a second time.

“We signed an agreement with the (union leaders) that restores complete normality at the port from this moment forward,” Olea told reporters.

The workers resumed their strike Monday, saying management had reneged on a pledge to reinstate all striking workers and establish a permanent negotiating table to resolve future disputes.

The company pledged to create a work group prior to the end of February with the aim of “discussing and proposing improvements and modalities of operation with full-time employees and temporary workers” provided the strikers resumed their duties some time on Wednesday, Olea said Wednesday.

Exporters estimated their losses from the strike, which affected ports nationwide in January, at roughly $ 1 billion.

Publication date: 1/30/2014


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