(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
The Labor Party's red roses, which Jens Stoltenberg and party members distributed on streets and squares during the election campaign, are produced on a rose farm in Zambia where workers are not allowed to form free unions.
- I am sorry to note that the farm in question Esquire Roses Farm does not comply with human rights and the ICC (International Code of Conducts). The farm is not organized and does not allow free unions, says Godgridah Manjomba of the national union for agricultural workers in Zambia.
- If it is as Ny Tid says, then this is very unfortunate, comments information manager Tommy Skar in the Labor Party.
- It is an elementary right and part of human rights that workers can form unions, says LO secretary Ellen Stensrud.
- A shame
The last week before the election, Øyvind Slåke at the Aps election campaign office in Oslo said that the party had received assurances from the flower company Walldén Moum that the roses they bought from them were produced under reasonable conditions in Africa.
However, the wholesale company Primaflor in Oslo, which imported the Labor Party roses from two companies in Zambia and one in Ethiopia, admitted to Ny Tid that they could not provide such a 100 percent guarantee.
Slightly reluctant, Primaflor stated the name of one of the rose farms that served the Labor Party with the entire 250.000 long-standing red roses during the election campaign. The farm is called Esquire Roses Farm Ltd. and is located in Zambia.
- It is a shame that a social democratic party has not actively ensured that the roses they buy come from farmers who guarantee good social and professional standards, said leader Frank Brassel in the international flower campaign (IFC) just before the parliamentary election (see Ny Tid number 32) .
- Never been uneasy
Brassel then stated that Esquire Roses Farm is not on IFC's list of flower farms that are affiliated with the "Flower Label Program", a certification scheme that guarantees that producers follow acceptable social and environmental standards.
Beyond this, Brassel did not know the details of the rose farm. To find out more about the conditions at Esquire Roses Farm, Ny Tid therefore contacted the Zambian farm under the guise of being interested in importing their roses.
Rosefarmen's director, Alpesh Patel, responded with a supplementary fax about the price and quality of the roses they produce, as well as assurances that they follow rules and guidelines issued by the authorities in Zambia and MPS, an environmental protection organization in the Netherlands.
About the workforce, Patel wrote the following in his fax:
"There has been no labor unrest on our farm, and we do not expect any (in the future)."
- Not correct
A few days later, the director of Rosefarm elaborated on this with the following information by telephone:
- We have unions on our farm and have never had any problems with our workers. The EU says that we must have trade unions, and since we run an export-oriented business, we follow these requirements.
Patel also claimed that Esquire Roses Farm is affiliated with the "Flower Label Program".
- You can get this confirmed by contacting MPS in the Netherlands, he said.
Now, however, the leader of the international flower campaign has had Esquire Roses Farm checked with trade union contacts in Zambia, which states that the rose farm does not allow free trade unions.
- The statements from the director are obviously not correct, neither in relation to trade unions nor certification, says Frank Brassel in IFC, and adds:
- It is possible that he mixes together "Flower Label Program" and MPS's certification system. But I can categorically deny that Esquire Roses Farm is affiliated with the "Flower Label Program", which is the only certification system internationally that guarantees that flowers are produced under socially and environmentally acceptable conditions.
- Not easy to control
Brassel also states that there are no flower farms that are approved by the IFC's certification scheme, neither in Zambia nor in Ethiopia, where the Labor Party's election campaign prose comes from.
How the working and environmental conditions are on the two rose farms that the wholesale company Primaflor imports the Ap roses from in addition to Esquire Roses Farm, is thus an open question.
- This information is very new to us. But if it is the case that we can not trust the insurance we have received from our supplier, then we must sit down to find out how we can find better ways to insure ourselves. The Labor Party shall trade products from where there are acceptable conditions. But it is not easy for us to control such things, says Aps information manager Tommy Skar, who promises to keep Ny Tid informed about the results of the party's handling of the case.
- Must fix it
- The Labor Party must sort this out itself, and I understand that they intend to do so now. It is commendable, says LO secretary Ellen Stensrud.
She emphasizes that she does not know how well the Labor Party has checked the roses' backgrounds before they went to purchase them, nor what assurances the party received in advance.
- In principle, it is an elementary right to form unions, and this of course also applies to Esquire Roses Farm. It is important that you check this type of information as well as possible in advance, says Stensrud, who adds that it is not negative that you trade with poor countries, on the contrary.
As is well known, LO has previously worked with others to ensure that products we buy are certified so that consumers know the background. For example, we have been very committed to ensuring that child labor is not behind blankets that come to this country. We would like product labeling to apply to roses and other goods as well, says the LO secretary.