In March 2020, a British TV channel reported that child labor was taking place on coffee farms that supply Nespresso in the Guatemala Fraijanes region. We immediately launched an investigation and, in April 2020, identified three confirmed cases of child labor out of the 374 farms that supply coffee to Nespresso in the Fraijanes region.
As a result of the investigation, Nespresso has devised six key immediate actions (see below) to promote the safety of children within the coffee growing communities of Guatemala.
NESPRESSO POSITION ON CHILD LABOR
Nespresso has a zero tolerance of child labor. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately. The prohibition of child labor is a key component of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. This Program was developed in 2003 in cooperation with the NGO the Rainforest Alliance, in compliance with the International Labor Organisation (ILO) standards. Coffee farmers must comply with our zero tolerance to child labor as a pre-requisite in order to join our AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. More than 110,000 farmers are part of the Nespresso AAA Program in 15 countries.
THE NESPRESSO GUATEMALA CHILD LABOR ACTION PLAN – 6 KEY ACTIONS
The Nespresso Guatemala Child Labor Action Plan has been developed to tackle the complex issue of child labor and its root causes in the country.
The following six actions are being implemented by Nespresso as short-term, immediate approach to tackle child labor in Guatemala. As a second step, a deeper analysis into the root causes of child labor in the country and specifically the Fraijanes region will be conducted by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) during the 2020/2021 harvest to inform Nespresso’s long-term action plan:
- We have doubled the team of agronomists in Guatemala and have hired dedicated social workers who will support the local families who grow and harvest coffee during the upcoming harvest to safeguard their children and reinforce Nespresso’s zero tolerance child labor policy;
- We have agreed with our NGO partner the Rainforest Alliance to undertake independent monitoring and unannounced visits, which will become part of their new standards and procedures. We have tasked Enveritas, another of our NGO partners, to conduct unannounced visits and independent monitoring specifically on child labour in the farms during harvest. Our agronomists will also perform unannounced visits;
- We are reinforcing detailed record-keeping and documentation for temporary workers and their families to ensure fair remuneration;
- We are expanding a pilot project with a local NGO that provides child friendly spaces on farms during harvest, helping parents to mitigate the safety risks of leaving their children unattended at home. These safe places for migrant pickers’ children on farms provide education and meals to them, while their parents work in the farm. The facilities also offer basic medical consultation for the children;
- We are increasing the number of dedicated education and awareness sessions on the risks of child labor for cooperatives, agronomists and farmers;
- We have implemented a confidential communication and grievance hotline over mobile app for the next harvest season to enable third parties to report any incidents of suspected child labor.
In addition, we are creating a network of local organisations, the Community Child Labour Committee (CCLC), in order to support and work with us on remediation activities in case a child labor case is uncovered. With the FLA, we will identify and engage specialized civil society organizations and other local agencies as part of this committee. Working in collaboration and under advisement from key local stakeholders is paramount to ensure that appropriate actions are taken on the ground to bring a positive change moving forward. The FLA will review all our AAA Program policies and procedures regarding child labor and working conditions more broadly and provide recommendations for improvement.
Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso, said: “Protecting children from exploitation is of paramount importance to us. It’s critical for companies such as ours to work hand-in-hand with coffee farming communities to combat this issue, which is complex and driven by a variety of economic, social and cultural factors. There is no easy answer. We have acted quickly not only to investigate the issue, but also to implement immediate, concrete actions to address it. We will continue working with our different partners to devise longer-term strategies to protect children and have a positive impact on the local farming communities within the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program.”
This action plan comes on top of the regular work done by the dedicated Nespresso AAA agronomists, who assess and raise awareness of social and environmental performance (including child protection) when they visit AAA farms, as part of their overall support to farmers to increase productivity and yields of high quality coffee, which directly leads to improved incomes.
Economic factors are a major driver in child labor. Nespresso continues to pay a premium to farmers for their AAA coffee, which is proven to improve the welfare of coffee farming communities and reduce the risk of child labor. Nespresso already pays the highest prices for coffee in the region of Fraijanes.
“Our action plan is already being implemented and will be monitored closely to ensure it makes a tangible difference to properly protect children in the coffee farming communities with whom we work. These actions complement our existing, ongoing work direct with AAA farmers in the region – the overwhelming majority of whom fully respect child labour regulations. We know that the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program has had a significant, positive impact on farmers, farm workers and farming communities in Guatemala and around the world, and we are committed to continuing this work,” continued Guillaume Le Cunff.