Since 2005, farm workers in the US have been calling on major purchasers of tomatoes, such as fast food and retail chains, to use their buyer power to fight the exploitation of farm workers. Burger King, McDonald’s and Walmart have already joined the Fair Food Programme. However, Ahold has so far failed to make a serious commitment to decent labour conditions.
Last week, national trade union FNV, FairWork, the Rural Sociology Group (WUR) and other organisations called on Ahold to join the Fair Food Programme. At Ahold’s Annual General Meeting on 15 April, the issue will be raised for the fifth time in a row.
Meanwhile, Ahold is being criticised for its use of extremely low-paid young workers in the Netherlands: “Do you work at Albert Heijn at 6.95? CEO Dick Boer makes that much in 14 seconds”. A youth movement supported by FNV and various community organisations has launched a campaign against the Dutch system of youth wages which is the worst in Europe. It has calculated that Ahold and McDonald’s pocket 79 million euro per year by paying youth wages to workers who are 18 years and older.