In the Blog

flowers, anyone?

May 16th, 2007     by Thea Lim     Comments

This is a little late, considering that this continent’s biggest floral blow-out (apart from Valentine’s Day…) was last weekend, but better late than never…

The international floral industry is well-known for its transgressions of workers’ and human rights. This is particularly pertinent for women, I think, because we are often the ones who purchase or receive flowers (damn social conditioning) and also because over half of floral workers in Colombia and Ecuador - almost all of whose flowers get shipped straight up to North America - are women.

The website Fairness in Flowers has some pretty upsetting stats and info about how these workers are treated, including the fact that workers are continually prevented from unionising, shockingly high rates of sexual harassment (the website says over 1/2 of Ecuadorian floral workers were victims of sexual harassment), forced pregnancy testings, as well as poor standards of safety and occupational health. Really puts a damper on that old bouquet, doesn’t it?

Read on to find out what you do!

The International Labour Rights Fund is asking people to send letters to Dole, the global mega-agricultural corporation, to start negotiations with independent union Sintrasplendor.

The International Labour Rights Fund says that “Dole initiated negotiations only because the Ministry of Social Protection required it to do so before fully closing, and after the first few rounds, they have already shown that they are not proceeding in good faith.”

You can sign the letter here to support floral workers.

And you can also avoid flowers (and coffee and chocolate and clothes and…) that isn’t fair trade certified. It may seem small, but it can be a huge act of solidarity with women around the world - because you can bet that if workers rights’ transgressions are at hand, women are being hit hard. You can buy organic flowers at If you happen to live in or around Toronto, try Eco Flora. From first-hand experience, the fellow who runs it is extremely nice and helpful.

And if you can’t swallow the sadly higher prices of organic/fair-trade flowers, why not grow your own?

Tags: eco speak

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