Behind the label of Fairtrade
We have all heard of Fairtrade and an increasing number of us are buying it. Some people purchase the odd product, some buy anything they can as fair trade. Most of us understand that it means farmers and producers have been paid a fair price for their goods. We all think we could give a definition when asked, but what does it really mean? What is entailed in order to get Fairtrade certification?
To gain Fairtrade certification, producers will be inspected by FLO-CERT. This body carries out an independent and globally standardised certification system. It's not just the producer, but the entire supply chain who need to meet these standards to ensure gaining certification. The growers must ensure that crops have been harvested according to these standards. The buyers within the supply chain will be inspected to make sure they are also paying a fair price. Many of the practices that are required are working conditions that we take for granted in this country. Producers must adhere to the International Labour Organisation's standards, such as the non-use of child and slave labour. Producers must also provide a safe working environment and allow worker's the right to unionise. The United Nations Charter of Human Rights must also have been considered by the producer.
As well as making sure companies practise according to these guidelines, the FLO-CERT system also involves an encouragement of transparency. This is a really important element of fair trade, as opposed to traditional trade across borders which allows companies to hide information regarding their transactions. Long term relationships between sellers and buyers are also encouraged, to prevent buyers changing to other producers.
The certification systems sums up fair trade in it's quantifiable form, but the Fairtrade movement itself is also about the promotion of greater social equality and respect between international and local communities.