Labour conditions in the supply chain
We’ve taken positive action to address labour conditions for farm workers and others employed in our supply chains this year.
In January 2012, we issued the Commitment on Child Labour in Agricultural Supply Chains. We have prioritised three key commodity areas: cocoa, hazelnuts and vanilla.
In the same month, we also launched our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines (RSG) for Sugar. The guidelines state that we will ensure that sugar is sourced from mills where the mill operations and the supply base of farms and plantations comply with general requirements, including the following relating to labour practices:
- No use of forced or child labour
- Workers’ pay and conditions meet at least legal or mandatory industry standards
- Freedom of association and collective bargaining is respected, unless prevented by law, and the
- Provision of safe and healthy workplaces.
Since the launch, we’ve undertaken RSG audits in partnership with Proforest, and mapped our sugar supply chains in three countries we operate in – Brazil, Mexico and India.
Partnership with the Fair Labor Association
In February 2012, we became the first company in the food industry to affiliate with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a non-profit multi-stakeholder initiative that works with major companies to improve working conditions in their supply chains. Our work with the FLA is specifically focused on farmers and farm workers involved in growing hazelnuts in Turkey and cocoa in the Côte d'Ivoire. The FLA has investigated these supply chains on our behalf and highlighted issues concerning workers’ rights, child labour and other topics. We are working with them to address these as appropriate. See the FLA reports on hazelnuts (pdf, 3 Mb) and cocoa, and our Action Plans of response for hazelnuts (pdf, 551 Kb) and cocoa (pdf, 451 Kb).
The rural development impacts of a factory
Our contribution to the rural economy extends from the presence of our factories, to the agricultural support and capacity-building farmer programmes we provide.
Our facilities bring direct employment opportunities, greater access to our products for local consumers, and other indirect economic benefits across the community – all without obligation or contractual commitment.
Moreover, in both our manufacturing sites and our interventions with farmers, our investment is sustained over the long term. We remain in communities – as a purchaser of locally grown agricultural commodities, and an employer, trainer and neighbour – for many decades. This is because many aspects of our impact, such as building the capacity of local people to work in non-agricultural employment, take time and resources. This long-term, open approach helps to build trust and mutually beneficial relationships in the communities within which we operate.