To remedy Ecuador's failure to comply with its international legal obligations and to address the direct actions of banana-exporting corporations and local banana producers that enable them to benefit from this failure, Human Rights Watch makes the following general recommendations listed below as well as specific recommendations set forth at this report's conclusion.
Recommendation: The Ministry of Labor should fulfill its responsibility to enforce laws governing and relevant to child labor and to develop policies and programs addressing the human rights of child workers. In particular, Ecuador should allocate additional resources to the Ministry of Labor to provide for a sufficient number of labor inspectors to guarantee effective implementation of child labor laws in the banana sector, and the National Committee for the Progressive Elimination of Child Labor should coordinate with other relevant governmental bodies commissioned to address children's issues to develop initiatives targeting child banana workers.
Recommendation: In compliance with the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention requirement that countries "take effective and time-bound measures to . . . ensure access to free basic education," the constitutional and Minors' Code provisions mandating free and compulsory education for all children under fifteen should be given effect. Mandatory school, book, and uniform fees should be waived or scholarship programs developed for children whose families are unable to afford them; the Labor Code should be amended to increase the fine for employing children who have not reached the legal minimum age for employment, in violation of Ecuadorian law; and a portion of the punitive fine imposed on employers by the Ministry of Labor or juvenile courts should be dedicated to the rehabilitation of the child workers.
Recommendation: Making the letter of the Labor Code conform with its spirit, Congress should amend the Labor Code to prohibit explicitly the use of consecutive temporary contracts and project contracts to create a vulnerable and precarious "permanent temporary" workforce lacking effective protection against anti-union discrimination. The Labor Inspectorate should ensure that the prohibition is effectively enforced.
Recommendation: In accordance with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association finding that international law protection against anti-union discrimination covers both the dismissal and the recruitment and hiring period, Congress should amend the Labor Code to prohibit explicitly employer failure to hire a worker due to her involvement in or suspected support for organizing activity and should establish adequate and meaningful penalties to deter employers from engaging in anti-union hiring discrimination as well as anti-union dismissals. The Labor Inspectorate should ensure that these protections are effectively enforced.
Recommendation: All banana-exporting corporations, in coordination with their independent local suppliers, should ensure that international labor rights are respected on supplier plantations. Corporations should adopt effective monitoring systems to verify that labor conditions on these plantations comply with internationally recognized workers' rights and relevant national labor laws. In cases where the plantations fall short of such standards, the corporations should provide the economic and technical assistance necessary to bring the local plantations into compliance. The status of such efforts should be reported publicly at least on an annual basis.