By Clarissa Pintado, student intern at International Labor Rights Forum
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but for cut flower workers around the world, the holiday is not so romantic. Around this time of year, cut flower workers are forced into long overtime and high quotas. But this Valentine’s Day we can stand together in solidarity with cut flower workers by writing a letter to a Colombian businessman in the flower industry.
The disappointing truth is that behind most flowers bought in the U.S. there is a story of a flower worker in South America whose fundamental worker’s rights were violated.
Flower workers in Colombia, the second largest exporter of flowers; in Ecuador, the third largest exporter; and in other countries in Latin America are:
- Exposed to deadly pesticides and fertilizers on a regular basis that have led to health problems including nausea, impaired vision, conjunctivitis, rashes, asthma, congenital malformations, as well as respiratory, neurological, and reproductive problems.
- Discriminated against as new workers are often submitted to illegal pregnancy tests, and employers frequently fire pregnant workers. Sexual harassment is a serious problem.
- Forced to work overtime without being paid higher wages for their overtime work.
- Denied their rights to organize and bargain collectively, and are threatened and fired if they try.
Write a letter to bring justice to flower workers! You can also urge your supermarket to buy from companies that don’t exploit their workers. When you buy, look for labels such as Flower Label Programme (FLP), Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP), Veriflora, and FlorEcuador to name a few.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!