Many people will buy flowers for Valentine's Day, which can be problematic:
But Valentine’s Day also gives us a great opportunity to how our support for the 100,000 mostly women workers in Colombia who work long days to cut and ship flowers for Valentine’s Day.
About 60 percent of all flowers bought in the U.S. come from Colombia. Workers don’t earn enough to support their families, work long hours, suffer sexual harassment, and are fired when they try to form unionse to improve wages and conditions, according to U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP).
Take action by sending a letter to the Colombian government:
The Honorable Rafael Pardo Rueda
Minister of Labor
Republic of Colombia
Dear Minister Pardo:
Valentine’s Day is also known as International Flower Workers Day in order to draw attention to the working conditions of flower workers in Colombia, a country that ships 90% of its flowers to the U.S. market. I write to urge the Colombian government to ensure that the basic rights of flower workers, most of whom are women, are respected and that employers obey the laws governing your country—including new steps that your government has promised to take as part of an agreement signed with the U.S. government last year—to ensure that employers in the flower sector and other sectors stop treating regular workers as temporary workers in order to deny them legally-required benefits and rights.
Flower unions and the Corporación Cactus in Colombia also report that hundreds of workers who were dismissed over a year ago are still owed back pay, severance, and other legally-entitled benefits by Floramerica and the Nannetti Group, whose managers reportedly beat workers when they protested.
I respectfully urge the Colombian government to implement the spirit and the letter of the Labor Action Plan signed last year with the U.S. government. Please mediate a resolution between the workers and Floramerica that ensures that they are paid what they are legally due and strengthen and enforce measures to ensure that employers do not treat regular workers as temporary workers in order to avoid their legal obligations.
Last year Colombia once again led the world in the number of trade unionists murdered. I therefore also urge your government to improve the protection of workers, end impunity, and address and resolve conflicts marked by violence and murder, including in Cali where the city government has refused to reinstate 51 union members as ordered by the courts in October 2011, and at Pacific Rubiales where the company is busting the USO oil workers union, forced 3,000 workers to switch to a company union, and has fired another 1,000 workers, some of whom have been violently intimidated.