On 15 April, Moisés Sánchez (General Secretary of STAS’s sub-branch at Fyffes subsidiary in Honduras) and his brother were attacked by unknown assailants armed with handguns and machetes while they were returning to their homes after a trade union meeting. The message conveyed by these men was clear: stop getting involved in the union.
Condemnation has come from various quarters, including:
Jacqui Mackay, Banana Link’s National Coordinator, commented ‘It is clear that Fyffes’ persistent failure to ensure that fundamental workers rights are respected at Melon Export has created a vehemently anti union culture in which this attack has taken place. We have documented the failure to enable workers to exercise their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining at other Fyffes subsidiaries and suppliers. Until this changes we fear for the safety of the women and men who bravely defend the rights of their fellow workers.’ [Abducted & attacked for defending worker rights at Fyffes]
Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, said “We are horrified by this attack that comes after unions and workers´ rights activists around the world have exposed the abuses of Fyffes in their melon plantations in Honduras. The ITUC has been and will continue to support Moises and the STAS union in their legitimate demands to be treated with dignity”. [Fyffes Union Leader in Honduras Escapes Murder Attempt]
Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum said, “This horrific attack is just the latest assault on the rights of STAS to organize melon workers for decent wages and working conditions.” [Honduran Union Leader Attacked for Organizing on Fyffes’ Plantations]
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the State of Honduras to take all necessary measures to guarantee that union leaders can carry out their work of denunciation, monitoring, and protection, free from acts of violence that may endanger their life, integrity, and safety. [IACHR Condemns Attack on Union Members in Honduras]
While Fyffes have distanced themselves from the attack, GMB International Officer, Bert Schouwenburg, said, “While there is no evidence to suggest that Fyffes is directly linked to the attack, GMB says that their aggressive anti-union stance engenders a hostile atmosphere in one of the world’s most violent places.” [Brutal Machete Attack On Union Man]
Moisés Sánchez has declared that “There is a lot of concern, but we remain steadfast. They will not intimidate us.”