Fair Trade – sifting through the spin

Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade that has become recognised as the standard for evaluating the rights of workers in developing nations who produce the products we consume.

The FTAANZ website provides an informative summary of Fair Trade, noting:

It focuses on helping farmers and producers in developing countries to move towards economic self-sufficiency and stability. By paying producers and their workers fair prices and helping them gain the skills and knowledge needed, allows them to have a greater stake hold in their own business, provide safer and ethical working environments and therefore play a wider role in international trade. Fair trade also encourages better environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production.

It is about providing a fair go – not charity.

A Fair Trade Certified Company ensures that the supply chain down to the production of goods in factories has purchased all their manufactured components from producers and workers that have been treated ethically using the Fair Trade principles.

This covers:

  • Banning child and slave labour
  • Guaranteeing a safe workplace and the right to unionize
  • Adherence to the United Nations charter of human rights

Horror stories are constantly emerging of employees losing limbs in factories, only to receive no compensation and without the ability to work, not being able to afford to go home. An Amnesty International report tells the moving tale of a Chinese woman who had been working 12-hour night shifts in an embroidery factory in Korea, who wrote this on her suicide note:

“Migrant workers are also human beings. Why don’t they pay me for my work? I cannot go home because I don’t have money. I have chosen to kill myself, as there is no other way.”

What you have to remember when purchasing a product from somewhere that states they are a Fair Trade Company is that anybody can claim they are a Fair Trade Company.

Do not be confused by such organizations as the Office of Fair Trading (UK) or the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). Both of these organizations regulate economic competition law and policies amongst businesses, but have little to do with Fair Trade in the workers-rights sense of the word.

Their mandate is to provide consumer protection, not worker protection. The OFT slogan is to make “markets work well for consumers” and the KFTC website indicates that it’s primary focus is on anti-trust and consumer-protection cases, as does the KTFC’s own byline which refers only to competition laws, consumer protection, and boosting competition.

This has nothing to do with Fair Trade as it is commonly perceived.

To ensure that you are buying Fair Trade these are the only labels that are certified:


To read more about Fair Trade and where Envirosax stands in regards to these ethical principles, please read the full article.

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