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Guatemala: alleged discovery of child labour on coffee farms

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2 March 2020

Guatemala: Children as young as eight picked coffee beans on farms supplying Starbucks

Author: Jamie Doward, The Observer

“…Starbucks has been caught up in a child labour row after an investigation revealed that children under 13 were working on farms in Guatemala that supply the chain with its beans.”

“Channel 4’s Dispatches filmed the children working 40-hour weeks in gruelling conditions, picking coffee for a daily wage little more than the price of a latte.”

“The Dispatches team said some of the children, who worked around eight hours a day, six days a week, looked as young as eight.”

“Over the course of the investigation, Dispatches visited seven farms linked to Nespresso and five linked to Starbucks. Child labour was found on all the farms.”

“A human rights lawyer who viewed some of the programme’s evidence suggested both companies were in breach of international labour regulations laid down by the UN’s International Labour Organization.”

“Nespresso’s chief executive, Guillaume Le Cunff, said: “Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately. In this case, we’ve launched a thorough investigation to find out which farms were filmed and whether they supply Nespresso…”

“Starbucks also said it had a “zero tolerance for child labour anywhere in our supply chain”. It told Dispatches: ‘We’ve launched a full investigation into the claims brought by Channel 4, carried out in partnership with a leading third-party auditor.’”

“Starbucks has since said that its investigation confirmed ‘we have not purchased coffee from the farms in question during the most recent harvest season’.”


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2 March 2020

Opinion: How can Nespresso tackle child labour in its coffee supply chain?

Author: Aidan McQuade, Thomson Reuters Foundation

“No one who has ever dealt with the challenges of agricultural livelihoods in the global South should ever be surprised that child labour remains an issue.”

“…audits are used by many big companies to give a façade of transparency rather than actually putting in the hard work that is necessary to more effectively tackle the issue. However … audits are a poor instrument for resolution of child labour.”

“…those who practice child labour are often the child’s own parents who are often trying to do their best for their kids in horrendously difficult circumstances.”

“That parents' best intentions for their child result in child labour is a consequence of poverty.”

“Audits by their very nature do not address these underlying causes of child labour”

“…it would, paradoxically, be a pity if these reports of Nespresso’s failings put people off buying their coffee. If businesses stop trading with poor communities they will be impoverished further.”

“So if businesses want to address child labour in a meaningful way then they must engage with those issues.”

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27 February 2020

Guatemala: alleged discovery of child labour on Nespresso coffee farms

Author: Kate Hodal, the Guardian

“… alleged discovery of child labour on farms used by coffee giant Nespresso…”

“In response the company, which is part of Swiss conglomerate Nestlé and advertises its coffee as ethically sourced, has launched a “thorough investigation” into its farms in Guatemala and suspended all purchases from the problem plantations.”

“‘Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour,’ said Guillaume Le Cunff, the Nespresso CEO, in a statement.”

“Despite numerous corporate-led and third-party audit visits to Nespresso’s coffee farms in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Uganda and other supplying countries, only two cases of child labour were reported in 2019, according to Nespresso.”

“However, Le Cunff admitted that its coffee suppliers are given “a day or two days” advanced notice when spot checks take place.”

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