Day of Action Saturday 28 October
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 | Joanna
We have always been passionate about the great work fair trade can do for workers and farmers in the developing world. Fairtrade is the gold standard for farmers who grow the food we love. Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas and cocoa are all widely available from supermarkets and this approach was spearheaded by Sainsbury's. But this year Sainsbury's decided to pilot a new idea - Fairly Traded tea.
This tea is grown by the same farmers who grow the Fairtrade tea, but crucially Sainsbury's has decided not to pay the Fairtrade premium. The farmers still receive the full price, and their working conditions are monitored in exactly the same way, but the premium which forms part of the agreement is missing. Premiums are used by the farmers' communities and have been used to pay for fresh water, schools, clinics, bicycles for district nurses and countless other things to improve the lives not just of the farmers, but their families and communities. Sainsbury's is setting up its own Foundation which will distribute the money but crucially the communities don't get to choose how the money is spent.
We think this is disempowering and not a little patronising, and we aren't alone. A coalition of fair trade campaigners including Traidcraft, Oxfam, Cafod and the WI have launched the campaign Don't Ditch Fairtrade asking Sainsbury's to reconsider the decision to move away from Fairtrade. Groups all over the country will be getting involved this week, culminating with a day of Action on Saturday 28 October.
Since we moved to the area in 2014 we have been active members of York Fair Trade Forum and since so many of us were busy on Saturday we decided to act yesterday and on Saturday we'll join in by posting on social media about our adventures.
We want Sainsbury's to understand how their customers feel about Fairtrade, how important it is that they continue their good work in promoting the benefits of Fairtrade for farmers. We've seen how Fairtrade has transformed farming communities in some of the world's poorest countries and empowered people to take decisions about their future. Isn't that worth preserving, rather than ditching?