The IUF/COLSIBA – CHIQUITA framework agreement: a case study

Multinational Enterprises Programme Working Paper No. 94

A rapidly growing number of international trade unions are signing International Framework Agreements with multinational enterprises (MNEs), securing their commitment to respect fundamental workers’ rights. This paper explores the agreement between the global banana giant Chiquita and the Latin-American Coordination of Banana Workers Unions (COLSIBA) signed in 2001. To achieve the agreement the banana unions employed innovative tactics of regional coordination and of alliances with solidarity groups in the major consumer markets, using public campaigns against Chiquita targeting supermarket chains and consumers. This paper argues that such international agreements show a promising way to defend and advance workers rights within MNEs, allowing trade unions to develop a sophisticated multi-level response to the challenges of MNEs geographically dispersed production systems and outsourcing strategies. More broadly the strategies show innovative possibilities for unions to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to secure respect for basic workers rights within MNEs.