The Malta Independent 14 October 2019, Monday

Street theatre in Castille Square calls for EU action against unfair trading practices

Friday, 12 February 2016, 11:49 Last update: about 5 years ago

Street Theatre was organised today in Castille Square to protest against the inaction by the EU institutions in regulating supermarket’s activities on vulnerable and small scale producers in Europe and abroad.

Performers from Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust represented fruit workers, the super market chains and the European Institutions. Workers and farmers lay kneeling and chained in order to represent the unfair working conditions imposed on them by large supermarket chains. An artist symbolising supermarkets held the chain that control producers, while the EU representative remained indifferent to the injustice.

Marthese Formosa from Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust said, “There is a worrying trend in Europe. Most food products are owned by a few companies that have a big share of the market. Many of these companies are spread all over Europe and directly source food from farmers and producers. Due to the big market share that these companies and retailers have, national governments are usually unable to regulate them, leading to poor conditions for farmers and producers”.

This street theatre was done in light of a report by the European Commission titled “Unfair Business-To-Business Trading Practices (UTPs) in the Food Supply Chain” that was published on the 29th of January 2016. The EU funded project Make Fruit Fair!, which Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust is part of, has been following this report. The report by the Commission acknowledges that there are abuses by large companies however it expects that individual Member States take an initiative in the matter and set standards for workers’ rights when companies contract food products.

In this way the Make Fruit Fair! campaign believes that the European Commission missed an opportunity to take the lead in stopping abusive practices by large business which impact on many small-scale farmers and businesses, in Europe and beyond. 

The Make Fruit Fair! Project encourages the European Commission to set up structures to promote the exchange of information about abusive practices and admonishes those EU Member States which allows their companies to engage workers to exploitative conditions including non-European farmers that supply the European market.

Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) include late payments, health hazards at work, long working hour, unfairly low wages and child labour. Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust will be working on the Make Fruit Fair! project to raise awareness on working conditions in the tropical fruit industries and why it is important to choose fruit that is Fair Trade.

The Make Fruit Fair! project is backed by more than 60,000 European citizens who have signed a petition urging  EU Commissioner on the Internal Market to make a legislative proposal to tackle Unfair Trading Practices. More on this campaign will be launched during this year’s WorldFest which Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust organizes on an annual basis.

Pictures: Mike Camilleri 

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