Assessing the Impacts of Fair Trade on Worker-Defined Forms of Empowerment on Equadorian Flower Plantations

Angus Lyall
Publication Date: 
This study was commissioned by Fairtrade International and the Max Havelaar-Foundation (Switzerland) to investigate the ways in which workers on three Fairtrade-certified flower plantations in Ecuador understand and define ‘empowerment’ for themselves, their families, and their co-workers. The study attempts to understand workers’ own perspectives on how and to what extent Fairtrade standards, producer support, and certification have promoted these worker-defined notions of empowerment. It considers how the Fairtrade standards and producer support might promote such processes in the future.
The introductory section of the report provides an overview of Fairtrade actions and objectives in hired labour contexts, explains the importance of studying changing power relations in these contexts, and summarizes the methodological approach and challenges. Section two describes the study’s context in terms of Fairtrade’s institutional development and the historical development of the flower industry in Ecuador. Section three sets out the research methodology in more detail. Section four presents the results of the study, and includes a proposal for possible empowerment indicators for Ecuador’s flower industry. Section five is an analysis of data provided by the plantations relating to signed agreements between the plantation management andand Fairtrade Premium investments between 2007 and 2011. Section 6 sets out conclusions and recommendations.