PRESS RELEASE FOR AHOLD AGM Contact Lucas Benitez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, +31-62 695 7982,
email@example.com Joe Parker, Student Farmworker Alliance, +31-62 695 7983, firstname.lastname@example.org Peter Sabonis, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, email@example.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Human Rights organisations, to Call on Ahold to Join Fair Food Program Without Further Delay ‘Pure and Fair’ products are offered to Dutch consumers on the shelves of Ahold subsidiary Albert Heijn. Yet Ahold is not playing fair with thousands of workers in Florida’s tomato fields, where the company has refused to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). The FFP is a partnership among US farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and retailers — including McDonald’s and Walmart — that has established the highest, most rigorously monitored human rights standards in the US agricultural industry today. Amsterdam – On April 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) — the award-winning human rights organization of Florida farmworkers — will hold a press conference outside Royal Dutch Ahold’s annual general meeting, at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Piet Heinkade 1 in Amsterdam and call on the global food retailer to join the Fair Food Program (FFP) without further delay.
The FFP is a groundbreaking collaboration that has won the praise of human rights observers from the United Nations to the White House for its unique success in eliminating labour rights abuses. By committing to the FFP, participating corporations support more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers and purchase exclusively from those who meet these higher standards, among them required time clocks, health and safety protections, and a zero tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment. Important is that participating corporations also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium that is passed down through the supply chain and paid out to workers by their employers. But Ahold, unlike Walmart and other retailers, has thus far refused to join this proven program that simultaneously protects and enhances human rights, brand integrity and consumer confidence. Following the press conference, Lucas Benitez, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Karin Astrid Siegmann, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), will enter the annual meeting to question why Ahold’s executives continue to rely on their own standards of engagement that have failed to detect or remedy serious problems rather than supporting the robust and effective Fair Food Program, and to urge them to change course without further delay. “For decades the Florida tomato industry has been marked by sub-poverty wages, wage theft, sexual harassment and, in extreme cases, forced labor,” according to Benitez. “The Fair Food Program is not only eliminating these abuses, but also addressing their root causes.” The refusal of Ahold to participate
undermines the success and progress of this program, and creates a market for tomato growers who refuse to adopt these new standards and opt to remain in the shadows, where their workers have no access to the rights and protections of the FFP." In January of 2014, Walmart became the third US-American supermarket chain to commit to the FFP, joining eleven other multi-billion dollar food retailers who collectively comprise the most progressive social responsibility initiative in US agriculture today. The Fair Food Program is closely aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by States at the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. The Fair Food Program uses a “smart mix” of tools, noted Alexandra Guáqueta, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights who participated in the signing ceremony of the CIW’s Fair Food agreement with Walmart earlier this year. “It combines law enforcement with rules agreed to by the parties which go beyond existing regulation. Together these deliver respect for human rights and better living standards for workers. Workers are consulted, they lead on peer education on human rights, and existing US labor laws are upheld. Furthermore, the Program includes market incentives for growers and retailers, monitoring policies and, crucially, a robust and accessible mechanism to resolve complaints and provide remedy. Workers have no fear of retaliation if they identify problems.” On April 14, 2014 at 11:00, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) — the human rights award-winning organization of Florida farmworkers — will visit the International Institute for Social Studies, Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX Den Haag, Netherlands, and share the details of the Fair Food Program, a corporate accountability program that is
worker-centered, market-driven, and recognized as a model by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights. (contact Karin Astrid Siegmann, e-mail Siegmann@iss.nl, phone 06-417 97640). About the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW): The CIW is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, USA with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international human rights standards. With its Fair Food Program, launched in 2010 in over 90 percent of Florida's $650 million tomato industry, the CIW has won fairer wages, work with dignity, and freedom from forced labor, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace for tens of thousands of the USAâ€™s most vulnerable workers. ### END ###