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Turkey: Nestle & Ferrero face allegations of labour rights abuses of Syrian refugee hazelnut farmers

On the 28th of April 2019, the New York Times published a report by David Segal investigating the working conditions of Syrian refugees who perform backbreaking labor on the farms that produce 70 percent of the world’s hazelnuts for confectionery companies like Nestle, Godiva, and Ferrero. The investigation highlights several human rights concerns for refugees, displaced by the Syrian war in the 600,000 hazelnut farms scattered throughout Turkey. 

The article suggests that while nearly all farms in Turkey pay minimum wage (2,020 lira or $339 USD per month), this remains far from the living wage. 

The article illustrates that workers have little legal recourse or protections. As such, Turkey’s Labor Code does not apply to agricultural businesses with fewer than 50 employees, so much of the policing of this crop falls to confectionery companies. It adds: ”And unchecked multibillion-dollar companies, as we all know, aren’t known for their benevolent oversight and fair treatment of workers."

Child labor was also recognized as a prevalent issue in the hazelnut farms of Turkey. 

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Nestle and Ulker to respond. Nestle sent a response, which is available below. Ulker did not. Ferrero responded in the article below.

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