Una Cosecha Justa: Project to Reduce Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Other Forms of Labor Exploitation in the Chile Pepper and Tomato Sectors in Mexico
The Una Cosecha Justa project aims to increase protections for workers and reduce the risk of child labor, forced labor, and other labor rights violations among indigenous and migrant workers in the chile pepper and tomato sectors. The project will mobilize government officials, employers, workers, workers’ organizations, agricultural outreach workers, community leaders, and civil society organizations to address labor violations and increase worker engagement in advocating for their labor rights.
To achieve this, the project will work with labor stakeholders at the state and federal levels in communities that both send and receive migrant workers to develop strategies to empower workers and link them to social protection systems. In addition, the project will raise workers’ awareness of their labor rights and how to report violations. The project will focus on the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.
According to reports, including those by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State, hundreds of people are working in forced labor to produce tomatoes and chile peppers in Mexico. Many of these workers report being recruited by middlemen, called enganchadores, who lie to them about the nature and conditions of the work, wages, hours, and the quality of housing and who may also illegally charge recruitment fees.
Some of these victims, both men and women, work up to 15 hours per day under threat of dismissal and receive sub-minimum wages or no wages at all. There are reports of some workers being threatened with physical violence or being physically abused for leaving their jobs. Housing for workers and their families is often overcrowded and unsanitary with no access to potable water, latrines, or electricity. Some workers face growing indebtedness to company stores that inflate prices of their goods, forcing workers to purchase provisions on credit and limiting their ability to leave the farms.
The project will achieve its objective by mobilizing labor stakeholders to address labor violations and by increasing engagement of workers in the chile pepper and tomato sectors to address violations of their labor rights.
To achieve these outcomes, the project will:
- Increase the capacity of labor stakeholders to empower vulnerable workers
- Increase access to social protection for workers
- Strengthen private sector capacity to prevent child labor, forced labor, and other labor rights violation
- Increase workers’ knowledge on their labor rights
- Increase the capacity of workers to monitor and report on labor violations in the workplace