Tower Hamlets reaffirms status as Fair Trade borough

21 March, 2023 | Council-level work

I am delighted that the motion I seconded on reaffirming Tower Hamlets’ status as a Fair Trade borough has passed unanimously.

The highlight of the Full Council meeting of 15 March 2023 was the unanimous passing of the motion I seconded (proposed by Aspire Cllr Wahid) reaffirming our borough’s status as a fair trade borough.

You can watch the full council meeting online here:

The full text of the motion can be read on page 82 here:

An extract from my speech:

The fairtrade mark is now 30 years old, and how impressive this mark is. The fairtrade system supports more than 1.9 million workers and farmers in 71 countries and on average, each fairtrade producer organisation around the world receives $91,000 in fairtrade premium, or other words, income over and above what they would get at normal prices.

The support the Fairtrade system gives to farmers and producers is invaluable in what is otherwise a highly competitive globalised market for primary goods producers. We in the global north rely on cheap products grown or produced in the Global South. This physical separation means we are disconnected from the communities which produce our livelihoods, and unaware of just how much violence, exploitation and greed goes into getting bananas to our supermarkets and local shops here in Tower Hamlets.

Fairtrade is not a silver bullet, but it does go some way to tackling the exploitation in our supply chains and the environmental destruction that our capitalistic system creates. It gives farmers and producers choice over their livelihoods and the ability to invest in their education, welfare and communities.

And the best thing? It really works. My parents had the honour of visiting several tea plantations in Sri-Lanka in 2017. They reported much better living standards for workers on the fairtrade farms when compared to non-fairtrade farms. They met Tamil workers on a Fairtrade farm who were being taught English and studying for higher-paid work in order to overcome the discrimination their ethnic group faces in the country.

Coming back to Tower Hamlets, our highly diverse borough has the privilege of having links all over the world – many of the Members here tonight hail from Bangladesh, Somalia; others, like myself have family ties to parts of Continental Europe. We, like the constituents we represent, are part of a truly global system; we are living, breathing representation of a globalised culture. So, Tower Hamlets, of all places, is the perfect borough to support Fairtrade.

The crux of my argument is that Fairtrade is a vital tool for us to show our solidarity with the global communities we rely on.

The motion and petition also presented in the meeting was reported in full here:


Category: Council-level work