Tuesday, 14 February 2012

On this and Every Future Valentines Day Spare a Thought for the Ones Who Truly Make the Day Special

I hope you're all enjoying Valentines day with your special someone, if you're in a part of the world that does celebrate the holiday that is. If your not then I hope you're having a good February the 14th anyway, preferably with good company.

But I know there's one group of people out there who definitely won't be enjoying the day of love and romance, and that's the same group of people whose labour and toil make all the gestures associated with it the flower pickers. Yes all over the world in nice, warm and sun-kissed nations like Kenya and Colombia thousands of workers (mostly women) are bending there backs to pick and prepare all those vibrant roses and fragrant tulips, so overworked families the world over can remind each other that they still love each other deep down.

And unsurprisingly the flower industry has little love between Capital and Labour as in many cases these staff have too face almost every unscrupulous cost saving measure in the book. High quota's for low pay, no time of or treatment for injuries caused because of the work required,

"66% of Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers suffer from work-related health problems

Pesticide abuse is rampant---flower workers experience higher-than-average rates of premature births, congenital malformations, and miscarriages

70-80 hour work weeks are common in the high season."

And you can forget about Unionising and official recognition of a representative group of any kind.

That young boy was part of a strike action on a flower plantation in Gaucani Colombia, oh did I mention that in addition to mostly women this industry much like Uzbek Cotton employs children and young teenagers.

The strike was last year and given that Colombia is a deadly place for organised Labour it shouldn't surprise you that the police were called in and tear gassed and beat many on the picket.

"On September 18th dozens of riot police arrived at the plantation and attacked the workers with tear gas, pepper spray and fists. Some of those who were protesting, mainly women workers, lost consciousness from being sprayed with gas whilst others were allegedly handcuffed before being badly beaten. The police also confiscated the mobile phones of at least 20 of the workers who had filmed or photographed the police violence."

The International Labour Rights Forum among many other concerned groups are aiming to end the injustice, and have stepped up a campaign to make Valentines day also the International Flower Workers Day to raise awareness of the rot at the heart of what should be a lovely day for all.

Justice for Colombia has more information on Colombian flower workers, and War on Want has an entire campaign about alleviating the issue globally.

They've also made this short video focusing on African flower workers and the struggles they face.


  1. May I republish this on Alienated Left with a link back to the original?

  2. Of course you can, I'm quite flattered you've even offered. The more people who see what these poor people have to endure the better for the campaigns.


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