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Oserian probed over minimum wages

Oserian worker
An Oserian worker. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The UK based Fairtrade organisation has launched an investigation into the wages paid by the Oserian flower company in Kenya following a report in two daily British newspapers.

The reports in the Mail on Sunday and Times newspaper allege that workers at Oserian are paid below the living wage in Kenya despite being FairTrade employers.

The Mail on Sunday said that some workers earned as little as 48 pence an hour for a 46- hour working week equating to just £96 a month, £66 below the living wage for the region.

Oserian says when taking into account accommodation, health care and schooling this is not the case.

As a result of the newspaper reports, FairTrade issued the Nation with a statement in which it said it was “concerned about the allegations highlighted by the Mail on Sunday. (We) want to see workers earn more and enjoy a better standard of living and decent working conditions, which is why we have launched an investigation into the situation on the ground, the details of which shall be made public once complete.

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"We are currently in the process of investigating to check that our Standards for Fairtrade certification on wages and working conditions are being met, and will make our findings public.

“Permanent workers on the farms in question earn considerably more than the minimum wage and Fairtrade is committed to continue working towards all workers earning the living wage. We believe this is a key goal for the sector, and though progress has been made, a living wage can only be achieved through collaboration.

“By supporting Fairtrade, flowers retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Co-op are already giving workers on these farms a better deal. The Fairtrade premium is also paid by retailers and is managed by worker’s committees who decide how best to spend this money for the benefit of the community.

“Fairtrade works in some of the most challenging environments around the world, and although we have made significant steps in improving working conditions, it was precisely to tackle such problems, and to use trade to overcome poverty, inequality and economic hardship, that Fairtrade was established.”

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