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Nestlé chair child labour comments “at odds” with the company’s commitments, IUF

By Helen Glaberson , 31-Mar-2011

Comments made by the Nestlé chair that child labour is “almost impossible” to stop, contradicts the company’s commitments to ending child exploitation in Africa, said the IUF, a global trade union representing food workers.

Peter Brabeck-Letma made the comments during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week. The Nestlé chair said child and slave labour in African markets was a challenge that was difficult to tackle.

The IUF said it was surprised by the statements made by Brabeck as the food giant is a founding member of the International Cocoa Initiative and is also a member of the Common Code for the Coffee Community, which are both working towards the elimination of child labour.

He said that despite launching certain programs, the child labour issue had not been resolved, without mentioning any specific countries.

Sue Longley, coordinator - global agriculture at the IUF said: “Peter Brabeck needs to recognise that for generations Nestlé has benefited from child labour in its supply chain.”

The IUF recognises that in rural communities, on family farms it is traditional for kids to assist their parents, said Longley. However, she said children working on cocoa, coffee or any other farms should not be made to work long hours that stop them going to school or do work that endangers their heath and safety.

Nestlé response

Nestlé did not provide ConfectioneryNews.com with a direct response to Brabeck’s comments but did send a statement outlining the company’s commitment to ending child labour.

“Nestlé is naturally concerned about working conditions in cocoa farms and is firmly committed to actions to eliminate unacceptable forms of child labour,” said the company.

“We have helped to develop a series of steps to encourage the growing of cocoa in a responsible manner together with other parts of the chocolate and cocoa industry, labour unions and NGOs. The result of these efforts is the Harkin-Engel Protocol signed in Washington by major industry players in September 2001,” said Nestlé.