Living wages in the banana sector: retailers come together
On 22 June 2022, retailers from Germany (ALDI Nord, ALDI South Group, dm-drogerie markt, Kaufland, Lidl, REWE Group), the UK (Tesco), Belgium (Colruyt Group) and the Netherlands (CBL representing Superunie group, Albert Heijn and Jumbo) convened in Berlin to discuss alignment and collaboration on the topic of living wages in the banana sector. The gathering was co-hosted by IDH - The Sustainable Trade Initiative and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The event was opened by welcoming words from representatives of the German, Belgian and Dutch government. While reiterating the importance of living wages and living incomes, the representatives thanked everyone present for their work and steps that have already been taken in this field. The representatives also welcomed the exchange and encouraged further progress and alignment to ease the process for all stakeholders and lessen the burden for producers at the beginning of the supply chain.
ALIGNED TIMEFRAME FOR THE COLLECTION OF WAGE DATA IN 2023
After presenting the different approaches of the initiatives on living wages in banana, all the retailers made a first big step towards alignment by agreeing on a common timeline for collecting and remotely checking wage data via the Salary Matrix, hoping to streamline the process in the next year and lessening the burden on producers. The aligned timeframe is expected to be implemented for the next data collection period from January 2023 onwards. It takes into account more realistic deadlines based on the experiences of suppliers and producers working on living wages with participating retailers in the past two years.
Following this milestone, two voluntary standard setting organizations: Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International talked about another important step in the process: verification of living wage gaps. The organisations offered insights into how they can support retailers in this step by including the verification of wage data into their auditing processes. To further advance, retailers will need to support standard organizations by aligning on necessary criteria for verification. To streamline the processes, it was clear that further discussion and more work will be necessary, to settle all questions such as financing of verification services and the potential for mutual recognition of audits on farms that hold multiple certifications.
The penultimate session of the day focused on informing participants about available tools that can help them in their effort to progress towards closing living wage gaps in the banana supply chain such as the Salary Matrix, the GIZ Living Wage Costing Tool and IDH’s Framework and Analytical Tool to support action on living wages. Lastly, in the final session of the day global organization ISEAL Alliance explored the topic of making claims on living wage action, explaining what makes them credible and workshopping with the participants on which claims they would like to make based on their actions towards living wages. ISEAL, IDH and GIZ will continue working on this topic during the rest of this and next year.
REINFORCEMENT OF ALIGNMENT AND FURTHER COLLABORATION
All participants reinforced the importance of continued alignment and unanimously agreed on proceeding with the exchange to advance their important work. Future exchange shall also include other stakeholders of the supply chains such as suppliers and producers and beyond. Identified topics of interest and areas for collaboration include transparency of costs and gender-specific living wage gaps. The exchange will be continued biannually facilitated by IDH and GIZ.