Dominican Rep.: Haitians in sugar plantations exporting to the US “live under working conditions similar to slavery”, says Al Jazeera

Dominican Republic is an important supplier of sugar for the United States. The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement was promoted as an instrument that could improve labour conditions. However, Aljazeera reports on the “hazardous working conditions”, child labour, discrimination, and the lack of a living wage for cane cutters in this country.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited both Grupo Vicini and Central Romana to respond to the allegation of inadequate working conditions in their sugar plantations. The response of Grupo Vicini is available below. We have not yet heard from Central Romana. We will indicate here later if Central Romana responds.

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Company response
+ Español - Hide

Author: Grupo Vicini

CAEI es una empresa administrada por VICINI, una firma de administración de activos.

No tenemos ningún comentario sobre el artículo. Como se refleja en el mismo y como sabrás, CAEI es una operación azucarera certificada internacionalmente y que ha aplicado tecnología de punta para garantizar los mejores estándares y buenas prácticas agrícolas y laborales.

No nos sentimos aludidos con la descripción de otras prácticas en la industria.

Company response
13 August 2015

Grupo Vicini comments

Author: Grupo Vicini

CAEI is a company administrated by VICINI, an asset management firm.

We do not have any comments regarding the article. As reflected in the document, and as you may know, CAEI is a sugar operation certified at the international level and applies top technology in order to guarantee the best standards and agricultural and labour practices.

We do not feel represented by the description of other practices in the sector.

This is an unofficial translation by the Business & Human Resource Centre. Please see the original response in Spanish here.

Article
16 July 2015

Blood, sweat and sugar: Trade deal fails Haitian workers on DR plantations

Author: Amy Bracken, Al Jazeera America

…The [Dominic Rep.] is…among the top suppliers [of sugar] to American markets…[T]he DR-CAFTA…was supposed to improve…worker conditions. But today Haitian immigrants [are] still targets of…antihaitianismo…Workers are paid by the weight of what they cut, which means older and sicker people earn less…Even when workers are injured on the job, their medical leave might not be covered…CAEI [owned by Grupo Vicini] recently implemented changes…such as posting the minimum wage on signs in bateys, verifying work hours, and providing safety equipment and drinking water…. [The US Department of Labor] is accused by some researchers of having an overly broad definition of forced labor and of exaggerating the prevalence of child labor…[Christopher Hartley]…points to the owners of Central Romana, whom he calls “the most resistant to any kind of change” for their thousands of workers… 

/Cane_Worker_Credit_Paolo_Proserpio_Report_Give_them_a_break_2

Read the full post here