I Am Supporting Fair Trade’s Five-Point Plan For Prosperity, Sustainability and Fairness
In countries from Fiji to Ghana to St Lucia Fairtrade is helping to deliver better working conditions, stronger workers’ rights and better environmental standards. A third of the countries which export fair trade goods are in the Commonwealth and are key trading partners of Britain, this leaves us especially well placed to influence them in order to promote fair trade and fair working conditions. All of us have the power to influence the global economy by buying Fairtrade, but it is also necessary for governments to act robustly.
The Fairtrade Foundation are pushing for living wages and living incomes across the Commonwealth, to combat modern slavery and to develop sustainable trade policies which empower women workers.
I believe everyone deserves the right find work and to be paid a liveable wage and to stable employment. This isn’t just a pipe dream, it is the norm across many of the most economically developed countries and Fair Trade have been helping much of the developing world in creating and supporting jobs with higher ethical standards.
Fairtrade’s five point plan points a way to achieving this and giving workers in developing countries the rights they deserve. The first step is to achieve a commitment to living incomes and living wages across the Commonwealth. The British government needs to lead on this, and though within our own borders the minimum wage has risen it is still significantly lower than the UK living wage. Internationally Fairtrade’s higher standards are boosting the incomes of low paid workers whilst also pushing for workers rights to unionise and have ‘decent work’
Fairtrade’s second step is to combat modern slavery through measures including legislation where it is needed. In 2016 the International Labour Organisation estimated that over 40 million men, women and children were victims of modern slavery. Buying Fairtrade can help to end this obscene, oppressive practice and Fairtrade have welcomed the fact that the government have acted by passing the Modern Slavery Act, although there are still serious worries about the act being enforced properly.
Fairtrade are also calling for countries to develop trade policies across the Commonwealth guided by the Sustainable Development Goals and their achievement by 2030. As Britain leaves the European Union there is a need to ensure we do not go in the wrong direction and that the UK’s trade policy prioritises sustainable development.
The fourth point of the plan is calling for greater support for Women’s Economic Empowerment. This means supporting businesses and co-operatives with women in leadership roles, working to change business culture, repealing discriminatory laws and strengthening representation at all levels.
Finally Fairtrade are calling for investment in producers, especially in young workers. This can be done though stronger human rights laws and greater support for co-operatives and for trade unions. Unions and co-operatives advance the position of producers and can play an enormously positive role in economic and social development.
I am endorsing Faitrade’s five-point plan for prosperity, sustainability and fairness. It is time the UK government and others do what they can to advance fair trade.