Happy to work for $3 a day?

NotcafeWho are we going to rip off this month? It’s not the sort of question that often comes up in discussion. We’re  all union members – we believe in a just, ethical and fair society. We’re the good guys – right?  Well, it depends on your perspective. To the majority of the world’s coffee growers, we’re rip-off merchants, condemning workers to “sweatshops in the fields’, unable to feed their families adequately or send their children to school.

New Zealanders have been slow to realise that what we consume daily is having a huge negative impact on millions of families across the world.

Take coffee – and almost everybody does. It’s the world’s second most valuable commodity after oil. You’d imagine coffee growers would be able to make a decent living; after all oil producing countries are awash with cash. In fact the opposite is true.

Most  coffee growers live in desperate poverty, earning hardly enough to feed their families and not enough to send their children to school. For that $3 cappuccino you enjoy in your local café  the coffee grower gets less than three cents. A farmworker on a coffee plantation working a 12 hour day in the hot sun earns around $3, less than you’d pay for an hour’s central city parking.

May 12 is World Fair Trade Day 2007.  Let’s take action by searching out and buying fair trade products, including coffee, tea, chocolate and others.   New Zealand consumers are light years behind those in Europe in demanding demand fair trade products in their supermarkets. Buying certified fair trade products is by no means an answer to bridging the yawning gap between rich and poor countries. You can’t change the world by drinking fair trade cappuccino, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

Why not participate in Fair Trade Fortnight (April 29 – May 12) by finding cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and organic stores that  stock free trade products.

Or you could ask Starbuck’s CEO to give Ethiopian coffee growers a fair go.

Or become a fair trade workplace and ditch the Nescafe in the staff tearoom

There’s more to fair trade than food. Become an ethical shopper. Learn more at New Internationalist

(thanks to NZEI for the story and Jim for the photo)

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1 Response to “Happy to work for $3 a day?”


  1. 1 RJakob 13 May, 2008 at 2:20 am

    In fairness, you can’t just taunt with $3/day without putting the local average wage and cost of living in the proper context. Adjust for regional cost of living and that $3/day will have a much more meaningful comparison. $3/day is unconscionable here, despite how many conservative business owners would like it to be so. But what does $3/day mean in the the coffee grower’s economy?


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