More than 24 million people are thought to be subject to forced labor around the world, mostly in industries with a lot of work and little regulation, such as agriculture.
Forced labor is any work or service that is exacted from any person under threat of any penalty and for which that person has not offered themself voluntarily. Nestlé can play an important role in helping address this issue - for example, by using our influence to promote and ensure fair and equitable recruitment practices.
Protecting workers' rights
We are addressing the risk of forced labor in various agricultural supply chains by developing programs targeting forced labor indicators, like unethical recruitment practices. For example, we have supported the development of a human rights-based due diligence tool on ethical recruitment for palm oil supply chains that can be used by suppliers looking to responsibly recruit workers.
Advocating for workers in the palm oil industry
Nestlé sources palm oil from over 80 suppliers in over 20 countries. Its production is labor-intensive, conducted over vast swathes of land, often in remote locations. Workers are vulnerable to long hours, low wages and restricted movement, often unable to collectively advocate for better conditions. The industry attracts migrant workers, who may have been unethically recruited, or forced to pay excessive fees to get a job.
For ten years we have been working to progress labor rights in palm oil, collaborating with suppliers, governments and non-governmental organizations. In 2020 we piloted a new framework for labor rights in palm oil, developed with our partner Verité, ahead of rolling it out, first with other suppliers and then across our entire palm oil supply chain. It is part of our Palm Oil Labor Rights Action Plan (pdf, 381Kb) that runs through to 2025.
Protecting migrant workers from exploitation in Turkey
Nestlé has been a project partner on the Fair Labor Association's (FLA) Harvesting the Future project since 2019. The project seeks to help producers improve working conditions for seasonal workers who migrate across different food industries in Turkey and the surrounding countries on a six to eight-month cycle.
The project's efforts include eliminating hazardous work for workers under 18, strengthening responsible recruitment, improving access to grievance mechanisms and adherence to living wages, and addressing child labor. Central to the project is training company and supplier officials within our supplier organizations and guiding them in initiating child labor prevention programs.
Promoting ethical recruitment in palm oil
To help make identifying forced labor, slavery and human trafficking easier, we have begun using an approach developed by Earthworm Foundation. This digital tool involves undertaking detailed reviews for every stage of a company's recruitment process and involves collecting and evaluating the recruitment experiences of foreign workers. The tool helps ensure our suppliers are compliant with the law. We have begun deploying this with suppliers in Malaysia.
Giving seafood workers a voice
In Thailand, where a portion of Nestlé seafood is sourced, we work with Issara Institute to analyze existing recruitment practices within fishing communities, and to root out unfair and unethical arrangements. Issara works with recruitment agencies, grassroots organizations and government, and empowers seafood workers by ensuring they can safely voice grievances and access remediation services. Through our relationship with Issara and other partners, Nestlé seafood suppliers in Thailand have all improved responsible recruitment practices since 2018.
Tackling human trafficking
Modern slavery is unacceptable and heartbreaking – tens of millions of people globally are thought to be subject to coercive working arrangements. Nestlé in the UK and Australian markets have collaborated to create a joint response to legislation in both their countries around modern slavery and human trafficking. Their report outlines a shared approach to the issues and demonstrates how we can use our influence to ensure consistency across borders.