hide message

Welcome to the Resource Centre

We make it our mission to work with advocates in civil society, business and government to address inequalities of power, seek remedy for abuse, and ensure protection of people and planet.

Both companies and impacted communities thank us for the resources and support we provide.

This is only possible because of your support. Please make a donation today.

Thank you,
Phil Bloomer, Executive Director

Donate now hide message

Kenya: Paper examines Unilever's response to allegations of sexual harrassment at Kericho tea plantations using UN Guiding Principles, finds firm falls short of own commitments

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
1 October 2011

October 2011: Unilever response to report by SOMO into our tea plantation in Kericho, Kenya

Author: Unilever

We are not aware of any current problems of inappropriate behaviour which SOMO allege to be happening at our Rainforest Alliance certified tea estate in Kericho, Kenya. We take any allegation of this nature very seriously and will take immediate action if there is evidence to prove that such behaviour has taken place...Unilever does not own or operate the Indian tea plantations mentioned in SOMO’s report - these are third party suppliers to us. We require that all our suppliers comply with Unilever’s Business Partner Code and have a track record of taking serious action against those which don’t. We have asked SOMO for detailed information about the alleged breaches at the Indian plantations, so that we can investigate them. If they are found to be true, we will act to correct them

Read the full post here

Article
29 October 2011

Statement in response to the SOMO Report from the Rainforest Alliance

Author: Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance takes the allegations contained within a report, Small Cup, Big Difference by the Dutch research and network organization SOMO very seriously. In response we wish to place the following on record...The standards to which the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms and estates are certified are set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)...When reports of activities or practices that are not in accord with the SAN standards come from an external source, such as SOMO, SAN auditors need concrete information in order to investigate the specific incidences that form the subject of the complaint. We understand the need to protect the identity of workers...However without specifics, a Research Audit can only look for systemic problems by interviewing workers, reviewing records and the direct observation of practices....Even though we did not have any factual information, we carried out Research Audits at the Kericho tea estate and the seven tea estates in India in October and November 2010 due to the serious nature of the allegations. Violations with the certification requirements were not found on these audits.

Read the full post here

Article
31 October 2011

[PDF] Certified Unilever Tea: Small Cup, Big Difference?

Author: Sanne van der Wal, SOMO, India Committee of the Netherlands

For this study one hundred tea workers were interviewed on a total of eight tea plantation companies, all supplying tea to Unilever...It was found that working conditions on tea estates that supply Unilever are problematic despite having been certified by the sustainability standard system RA. This in turn raises concerns about the effectiveness and credibility of this standard...The reactions of RA and Unilever on this study's findings pertaining to discrimination and sexual harassment mostly fall in the response category "true, but could find no evidence"...In reaction to this study's findings on discrimination, sexual harassment and corruption Unilever has claimed repeatedly that they are endemic...Since 2008 Unilever has claimed repeatedly, and later RA as well, that they cannot adequately deal with issues that supposedly occur such as discrimination, sexual harassment and bribery properly without having formal complaints by workers on these issues and/or the worker's details...the argument regarding SOMO and ICN being unwilling to provide irrefutable proof, is a key element in Unilever and RA response...In the statement the company states among other things: "[Unilever] has also done a lot more since last year in an effort to engage our staff and to pick on any areas of weakness especially on sexual harassment, bribery, employment and housing.‟

Read the full post here

Article
1 February 2012

[DOC] Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Unilever’s Kericho plantation, Kenya: A case study of due diligence and certification processes

Author: Libby Abbott, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

This paper examines Unilever’s management of alleged sexual harassment and abuse on their Kericho tea plantation in Kenya, and argues that on many dimensions the company took a defensive rather than proactive approach to the allegations, thereby falling short of its own commitments to due diligence. Section I provides brief background...Section II presents the allegations made against Unilever regarding human rights violations on the Kericho plantation in Kenya...[focusing] on those allegations made by the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)...Section III examines Unilever’s response...and the...response by Rainforest Alliance, the sustainability certification agency that certified the Kericho plantation...before and after SOMO’s allegations. Section IV analyzes this case through the lens of the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Specific attention is given to the challenges of the oft-neglected gender components of business and human rights...

Read the full post here

Company response
17 April 2012

Response by Unilever to the paper written by Libby Abbott relating to our tea plantation in Kericho, Kenya

Author: Unilever

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the paper written by Libby Abbott...We are pleased that the paper highlights the positive living and working conditions of our employees – access to housing, health care...Following previous serious allegations raised in relation to sexual harassment and abuse at our Kericho plantation we have...taken extra preventative measures including the rolling-out of human rights training with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission to a total of 151 managers and 491 unionised employees...A dedicated welfare manager for Kericho has been appointed and she has reached out to over 5,000 people. We also regularly rotate our plantation unit leaders and have initiated a welfare committee with at least 30% female representation to improve liaison between employees and management. However, although we have made substantial improvements, we accept that there is always more that can be done. The nature of such sensitive allegations makes it harder to prove that the reported behaviour has taken place but we recognise that this should not be a reason for inaction...

Read the full post here

Article
17 April 2012

[PDF] Rainforest Alliance response to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre [Kenya]

Author: Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is grateful for the opportunity to respond to the case study...by Libby Abbott...[W]e see this case study as a useful contribution to our understanding of issues relating to human rights and gender inequality and exploitation within the important social dimensions of the sustainability Paradigm. Since the...allegations...were first brought to our attention, we have continued to look at ways we can improve our contributions to addressing these important issues. The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard against which we certify is continually reviewed and improved. We meet with farmers, farmworkers and other stakeholders in each area to better understand the local issues. This information is used to continually improve the training given to auditors so that they are sensitive to the social and ecological issues in each local context...

Read the full post here