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Conectas Human Rights & ADERE MG v. coffee sellers

Case overview

Date filed 21 August 2018
Current status Filed
Issue Violation of labour rights in Brazilian coffee farms
Summary of the case On 21 August 2018, the union ADERE MG and the NGO Conectas Human Rights filed a complaint with the Brazilian NCP against six multinational coffee brands. The complainants argue that Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Illy have not taken proper steps to address risks of forced labor and other rights violations in their supply chains. The NCPs of the home countries of the involved businesses (United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy) have also been informed of the complaint.

According to the complainants, the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is a key location for coffee supply chains. It produces more than half of the coffee exported by Brazil, which is one of the biggest coffee producers in the world. However, the complaint asserts that Minas Gerais is also a high-risk area for labor and human rights violations. In the past three years, authorities have rescued 820 workers from conditions analogous to slavery at the state. The situation has been aggravated due to budget cuts that led to decreased state monitoring.

In 2016, reports by independent media and research centre Danwatch and Reporter Brasil demonstrated that suppliers of Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Illy might have been involved with modern slavery. According to the complainants, the nature of each company’s link to the violation varies: while in certain instances the company commercialized coffee which might have been produced by workers subject to forced labor, other companies only maintained relations with cooperatives that did so.

Since then, the complainants have been monitoring the working conditions in coffee farms in the region, documenting several instances of forced labor and other serious labor rights violations. ADERE and Conectas reached out to the six coffee brands, asking whether they could guarantee that they had not bought coffee produced in the farms where these violations occurred. The organizations also requested a list of suppliers, and asked which measures the companies had adopted to fix the flaws exposed by the 2016 reports. The complainants assert that although some of the companies responded, none publicized their supplier list, nor indicated measures adopted to ensure remedy for victims and correct norms and policies in view of past flaws.

The complaint asserts that Nestlé, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Illy have violated several provisions of the OECD Guidelines, international human rights law, and Brazilian legislation, in connection with this situation. ADERE and Conectas call for the six brands to provide remedy to victims, and to work collaboratively with complainants and other stakeholders to develop a joint action plan to prevent future cases of modern slavery in coffee farms in Minas Gerais.
Developments/Outcome
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Supply chain, Labour rights, Human rights, Forced labour, Multiple NCPs, NGO-union collaboration

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Brazil
NCP address Sector da Autarquias Sul Quadra 03 70079 - 900 Brasilia DF, Brazil
NCP website http://www.fazenda.gov.br/multinacionaispcn/
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Nestlé
Company address
Company website
Company in violation
Country of operations Brazil
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
21 August 2018 ADERE-MG file Case filed at Brazilian NCP; US, Swiss, Italian, and Dutch NCP informed.  

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