Despite huge profits earning producers US$10 billion annually, Ecuador’s banana industry remained unchallenged by the demands of workers’ unions. Unionising remained difficult in Ecuador, with only one per cent of banana workers involved in labour unions due to fear of blacklisting and threats of violence, including in multinational companies like Fyffes.
Meanwhile, working conditions in the banana industry were dismal. Half of the workers exceeded 14-hour workdays and were paid an average of USD$3.50 each day – less than the minimum wage. They were also required to meet certain production targets to be paid at all. Producers also reduced costs and took advantage of lax labour laws by hiring employees as “permanent temporary” workers. These poor working conditions affected more than 200,000 Ecuadorians in the industry.