Study analyses impact of sustainability certifications on working conditions at farms

Author: Sanne van der Wal & Fleur Scheele, SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations), Published on: 22 May 2015

Increasingly popular and widely implemented sustainability certification schemes like Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified aim to improve the working conditions of workers on farms in developing countries producing food for Western markets. New research shows that sustainability certification indeed benefits workers, but that working conditions on certified farms are not yet on a par with internationally agreed standards. This report is the first comprehensive and independent study on the impact of sustainability certification on working conditions on large farms.

Field case studies for this report in Kenya and Indonesia find that workplace conditions are generally better at certified companies than at non-certified companies. However, the study’s extensive literature research shows that agricultural workers on 70 sustainability certified farms in 13 different developing countries complain that up to six of their key workplace rights simultaneously are not yet respected...The study further shows that working conditions in certified production of tea in India and bananas in Costa Rica and are especially problematic - the exact cause of which needs to established in further research.

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