WASHINGTON – In a new report, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) outlines the findings of research to test interventions designed to protect workers in the supply chains of three affiliates. The evaluation, called a social impact assessment, included interventions executed by Nestlé and its two suppliers, Balsu and Olam, in the hazelnut supply chain in Turkey and identified the most effective at upholding workers’ rights.
“Companies must go beyond monitoring workers’ rights and labor conditions in their supply chains to meet their human rights obligations,” said Sharon Waxman, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. “Leading companies make a difference in workers’ lives when they play an active role in finding the interventions and strategies that are effective at upholding fair labor standards and improving living conditions. FLA is pointing the way forward and laying the groundwork for more companies to do so in the future.”
Decreasing child labor – Summer schools and daycare proved to be an effective means of preventing child labor. The assessment recorded a five-year low of six percent of children working in the hazelnut gardens, in comparison to 22 percent in a control group. Summer schools fill an essential gap by providing a safe environment in which children are supervised and their basic needs are covered while their parents work.
Recruitment and service fees – Training workers and labor recruiters resulted in increased understanding of workers’ rights. After the training, 66 percent of participating workers reported that labor recruiters did not require them to pay a recruitment fee, a common practice in the sector. The training did not result in a similar improvement for worker-paid transportation and food costs.
- Labor contracts – Training workers and labor recruiters resulted in labor recruiters registering themselves and workers with government authorities and the execution of employment contracts that protect workers. Such practices were uncommon in the traditionally informal sector.
Worker shelter renovations – Twenty-seven housing facilities for workers were built or renovated in nine villages by companies participating in the project. The improved living conditions were found to bridge an emotional and psychological gap between the growers and the workers. For example, families perceived the renovated houses as safe to leave their children when they go to work, which had not been the case previously. Growers perceived that workers were more loyal and productive when housed in better living conditions.
- Public-private partnership – The report concluded that cooperation between companies and governments is essential for interventions to be successful. Increasingly, governments rely on companies’ social compliance teams as their “eyes and ears” in the field. While public-private partnerships have a role, active government involvement is key to accelerating progress to protect workers.
Social impact assessments go beyond collecting compliance data. The FLA adopted the approach based on the growing recognition that compliance audits, while effective at noting labor violations, do not sufficiently reflect the complexity of issues or capture the results of remediation efforts. The social impact assessment reporting, benchmarked against the FLA’s Work Place Code of Conduct, is more likely to verify the effectiveness of companies’ remediation programs on the well-being of growers, workers, and their families, and assess the changing perception of community members and local government toward participating companies.
“We’ve been working with the FLA, our suppliers, the Turkish government and civil society organizations for many years to understand and improve the working and living conditions of hazelnut workers and their families. This is part of our commitment to source our raw materials responsibly. We welcome the improvements made. We will continue to work collectively to address the complex issues in the supply chain and report transparently on progress,” said Benjamin Ware, Nestlé’s Global Head of Responsible Sourcing.
“Improving working conditions and eliminating unacceptable labour practices is essential to our goal of developing responsible and sustainable agricultural supply chains. Olam is working towards achieving a fully traceable supply chain for hazelnuts by 2020 and these learnings will enable us to work closely with our partners to more effectively target our ongoing activities to improve the working conditions and livelihoods for hazelnut workers and their families,” said Burcu Turkay, Sustainability Manager for Olam Edible Nuts.
“At Balsu, we believe training in the field is vital. We have worked actively with the FLA since 2013 to prevent child labor in the hazelnut supply chain. People can change when given a chance, and education is our strongest tool to reach our targets as part of our journey to eliminate child labor,” said Murat Gokdemir, Commodity Manager at Balsu.
The report includes input from 235 workers, 20 children, four intermediaries, 14 supervisors and 49 local stakeholders involved in various interventions in 2018. The FLA analyzed child labor trends over the past five years based on historic data collected from more than 350 farms as part of the FLA’s independent external assessment process, since 2013. In addition, the results of interventions by the FLA and its partners under a 31-month project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor provided qualitative data for the social impact assessment.
The social impact assessment results will be used to improve interventions, address shortcomings, and test new activities. The FLA’s work in Turkey’s hazelnut sector since 2013, despite challenges, has resulted in documented progress and measurable impact on the lives of hazelnuts growers, workers, and their families.
To ensure the report’s findings and recommendations have the greatest chance of being implemented elsewhere, the FLA has established a new project titled “Harvesting the Future – Responsible Recruitment of Seasonal Migrant Workers in Turkey,” which will undertake similar work across commodities, with several companies and the Turkish government participating as key partners.
About the Fair Labor Association
For the past 20 years, the Fair Labor Association has worked to protect and promote the rights of workers across the global supply chain through collaboration among business, civil society, and colleges and universities. FLA-affiliated companies and the factories that supply them commit to uphold high labor rights standards. The FLA conducts transparent and independent monitoring to identify the root causes of labor rights violations and work toward sustainable solutions.
Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage company. It is present in 190 countries around the world, and its 308,000 employees are committed to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. Nestlé offers a wide portfolio of products and services for people and their pets throughout their lives. Company performance is driven by its Nutrition, Health and Wellness strategy. Nestlé is based in the Swiss town of Vevey where it was founded more than 150 years ago. Contact: [email protected]
About Olam International Limited
Olam International is a leading food and agri-business supplying food, ingredients, feed and fibre to 19,800 customers worldwide. Our value chain spans over 60 countries and includes farming, processing and distribution operations, as well as a sourcing network of an estimated 4.8 million farmers. Through our purpose to ‘Re-imagine Global Agriculture and Food Systems,’ Olam aims to address the many challenges involved in meeting the needs of a growing global population, while achieving positive impact for farming communities, our planet and all our stakeholders. More information on Olam can be found at www.olamgroup.com.
Balsu is the largest Turkish hazelnut processor and exporter with a strong global presence, established in 1979 as a family company in Turkey, with sales offices in Europe, U.S.A and Asia. Balsu has been serving top tier chocolate and confectionary industry including top 10 global hazelnut users since then. As world’s leading hazelnut company Balsu is one of the first companies who voluntarily pioneered Corporate Social Responsibility principles and established management systems for the improvement in social, economic and environmental issues. Balsu has been engaging with and seeks the views of a broad range of stakeholders to contribute to the development of sustainability of the hazelnut market and accelerated the pace of change in its supply chain. Please visit balsugida.com for more information on Balsu.