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Brazil: Wood allegedly produced under slave labour practices linked to US co's

*Sourced by RepRisk due diligence on ESG and business conduct risks, www.reprisk.com. 

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23 October 2017

Temer guts Brazil’s slavery law, to the applause of elite ruralists

Author: Sue Branford & Mauricio Torres, Mongabay

On 16 October the Labor Ministry issued a decree (Portaria N° 1129/2017) that altered the way slave labor is defined and prosecuted in Brazil. Under the new rules, it is no longer enough for workers to be laboring for many hours in degrading and inhumane conditions or to be paid only in food. From now on, for workers to be considered to be working “in conditions analogous to slavery,” employers must deny them the freedom to come and go...

Temer’s easing of slavery laws is extremely galling for many Brazilians, particularly as the problem is still very serious. According to figure published by the Walk Free Foundation, Brazil currently has about 155,000 people working in conditions analogous to slavery. In March, Mongabay and Repórter Brasil reported on how U.S. based companies, such as Walmart and Lowes, bought timber from Brazilian traders that sourced forest products from Amazon sawmills where loggers worked under slave labor conditions...

[E]xperts called for the immediate revocation of Temer’s decree, noting that it was “directly violating” international conventions of which Brazil is a signatory.

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13 April 2017

Suppliers of Lowe’s in the US and Walmart in Brazil linked to slave labor in the Amazon

Author: André Campos, Mongabay

An investigation has revealed U.S.-based companies bought timber from Brazilian traders that sourced forest products from several sawmills in the Amazon where loggers worked under slave labor conditions...

The commercial network linking retailers to sawmill companies was identified by a three-month investigation and confirmed by the companies. The wood products were mixed at Brazilian intermediaries, so the investigation was unable to track the exact destination of each piece of wood. However, its findings reveal that large retail and construction groups are sourcing the product from companies whose supply chains are contaminated by the alleged use of criminal practices, with the conditions of workers rescued from sawmill sites aligning with slave labor practices as defined by Brazilian law...

Walmart [has] also pledged to restrict their business with companies included in the “transparency list.” They are signatories of the Brazilian Pact to Eradicate Slave Labor, a multistakeholder initiative created 12 years ago advocating this kind of restriction. As [...] Tramontina clients, Repórter Brasil asked for their stance on the case... Walmart [...] underscored that Tramontina had already taken steps to exclude Madeireira Iller from its supply chain. (Read the full statement from [...] Walmart.) [also refers toTramontina, Carrefour, Pão de Açúcar, Timber Holding, Ronardi, Bonardi, USFloors, Lowe's, Tradelink]

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