Brazil: Conectas & union ADERE-MG file OECD complaint accusing 6 companies of forced labour in their supply chains

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On 21 August, Conectas and ADERE-MG filed a complaint to to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development accusing Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts and Illy of failing to ensure that their coffee is sourced from Brazilian farms that are free from forced labour. In 2016, reports by the NGOs Reporter Brasil and Danwatch demonstrated that suppliers of the mentioned companies had been involved with modern slavery. ADERE and Conectas reached out to the six coffee brands. The complainants assert that some of the companies responded but none publicized their supplier list, nor indicated measures adopted to ensure remedy for victims and correct norms and policies in view of past flaws.

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4 September 2018

Brazil: Brazilian NGO & union request mediation at Brazilian Natl. Contact Point with major coffee sellers for alleged labour abuses

Author: OECD Watch

“Specific Instance seeks remedy for alleged labour abuses in coffee supply chains-Brazilian NGO and union request mediation at Brazilian NCP with major coffee sellers Starbucks, Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, and others”, 1 September 2018

On August 21, a specific instance was filed by the union ADERE-MG and the NGO Conectas Human Rights against Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Illy at the Brazilian NCP. The NCPs of the United States, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands have also been informed. The complaint concerns activities of coffee producers in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which has been plagued by repeated cases of contemporary forms of slavery and other severe labor rights violations. The complainants allege that the named companies failed to properly address severe risks of modern slavery in their supply chains. The complainants seek mediation from the Brazilian NCP to achieve some form of remedy for the victims. The complainants also request the companies to elaborate, together with complainants and other stakeholders, a joint action plan to prevent future cases of modern slavery in the industry in the region. See more information on the case here.

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4 September 2018

Brazil: Conectas & union ADERE-MG file complaint to OECD accusing Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts and Illy of forced labour in their supply chains

Author: Marina Lopes, Washington Post (US)

"The hidden suffering behind the Brazilian coffee that jump-starts American mornings", 31 August 2018
... When police rescued Abelar Rebouças from a coffee plantation in southern Brazil, he was bone thin. The 51-year-old worked long days for a month in the hot sun, hauling 15-gallon bags of coffee beans.
His drinking water came from a ditch near a septic tank...When his employer refused to pay his salary for a month...he was forced to live off papayas and rice...Rebouças was one of more than 800 workers freed by authorities from degrading labor conditions in 2016...Brazil has been a pioneer in the global fight to eradicate slave labor since 2003, when the government drastically expanded raids on plantations and factories, raised fines for companies that violated labor laws and began publishing a "black list" of businesses caught using forced labor...[A]...stagnant economy and tighter budgets have hampered the country's fight against such abuses. Mistreated workers are now turning to the international community for help. Dozens of victims of degrading labor conditions at coffee farms formally accused McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts and Nestlé in late August of failing to ensure that their coffee is sourced from Brazilian farms that are free of slave labor...Nestlé and Dunkin' Donuts said they do not tolerate violations of workers' rights and are striving to identify the farms that produce their coffee beans. McDonald's did not respond...Brazil has one of the world's broadest definitions of slave labor...Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer, responsible for one-third of the world's beans. But farm owners have always depended upon cheap labor, first from more than 1.5 million African slaves who worked on the plantations in the 19th century and later from Italian immigrants. Today, most laborers come from impoverished Bahia state in Brazil...[W]orkers appealing to the OECD demanded that coffee companies be held responsible for their suppliers' labor violations."They can no longer argue that they don't know what is happening," said Tamara Hojaij, a researcher at the Getulio Vargas Foundation,...that has helped the workers build their case...The coffee workers are not the first to take Brazilian labor disputes to international organizations...[C]offee farmers are increasingly turning to automation. The rural workers' union estimates machines have cut farm labor by more than half in the past 10 years and shortened the harvesting season by two months...

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