Protect the Health of Sugarcane Workers

Target: Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization

Goal: Grant shorter workdays and frequent breaks to field workers in order to prevent illness.

In Central America, young field workers are dying due to a mysterious illness. Research shows that one of the common factors in all victims is that they work long hours in hot temperatures. Urge the International Labour Organization to evaluate the working practices of Central American field workers and prevent unnecessary death.

Chronic Kidney Disease of nontraditional causes (CKDnT) is a growing epidemic among young men. It comes on with little warning and progresses quickly, usually leading to death. So far, at least 20,000 men have died from this condition. These men are healthy and strong with no significant medical history. The only observable symptoms of CKDnt happen in the later stages. The victims experience yellowing skin and extreme fatigue just before they reach the most advanced stage of kidney failure. With limited access to healthcare in Central America, the men do not get the help they need until it is too late.

Research suggests that heat and humidity, long workdays, and dehydration play a significant role in the development of this illness. Sign below to urge the International Labour Organization to enact shorter workdays, frequent water breaks, and shaded rest areas for these vulnerable workers.


Dear Director-General Ryder,

Chronic Kidney Disease of nontraditional causes (CKDnT) is a growing epidemic in Central America. So far, over 20,000 young men have died from this mysterious illness. The disease targets farm workers who work long hours in the crippling heat. We request your cooperation with Central American farmers to eliminate these risk factors and prevent further death due to CKDnT.

Research suggests that heat, long workdays, and dehydration are major factors in the development of CKDnT. Sugarcane workers, especially, are vulnerable due to their less-than-ideal working conditions and limited access to healthcare. Sugarcane workers are forced to work long hours during harvest time and are not allowed to take breaks. This leads to increased fatigue and dehydration, which puts them at risk for CKDnT.

We demand that you make the health of these men a priority and modify their working conditions. The men are asking for shorter workdays, frequent breaks, and access to clean water. This is a small price to pay to prevent further illness and death.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Delano/Library of Congress

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