Beate Andrees is Head of ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour. You can follow her on Twitter at @beateandrees
Tomatoes were once grown by indigenous people in the Andes and then exported to Europe and North America by Spanish colonizers. And while the delicious fruit has found a home in many parts of the world, many of the workers who pick it have not. Many are irregular immigrants, tolerated because they provide cheap labour, but not welcomed.
One of the most prolific tomato growing regions is the state of Florida in the United States, the area focused on by film director Sanjay Rawal and actress/producer Eva Longoria in their film Food Chains. It tells the story of a group of courageous migrant farm workers resisting their exploitation.
Beate Andrees is Head of ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour.
At the International Labour Conference in June this year, governments, workers and employers adopted a new Protocol against forced labour, supplemented by a Recommendation, which has been hailed around the world as a landmark treaty to protect human rights. The new instruments received overwhelming support from governments, workers and employers with 437 votes in favour, and only a handful of abstentions or votes against.
The Protocol builds on one of the oldest and widely ratified ILO conventions, the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), which was passed in 1930. The initial aim of Convention 29 was to progressively abolish forced labour in colonial territories. As a result, it allowed for a transition period during which states could still make limited use of forced labour.
Across the planet, about one in every seven of us lives in extreme poverty, having to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Every day, they and the millions more living just above the poverty line struggle to have enough to eat, and dream of a better life and of earning enough to provide for their families.