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US News Nespresso launches probe into allegations of child labour on its coffee farms

12:30  26 february  2020
12:30  26 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

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A probe showed youngsters doing up to six-day weeks picking beans and shifting heavy loads to weighing areas in Guatemala. George Clooney's Nespresso coffee beans 'are picked by child labourers '. An investigation uncovered child labour at farms linked to Nespresso coffee .

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George Clooney talking on a cell phone: Nespresso is facing allegations of child labour at some of its coffee farms in Guatemala, according to a documentary. (Nespresso / PA) © Provided by PA Media Nespresso is facing allegations of child labour at some of its coffee farms in Guatemala, according to a documentary. (Nespresso / PA)

Bosses at coffee giant Nespresso have launched an investigation and promised to increase random checks on its coffee farms after alleged child labour was uncovered.

The move comes as the company’s brand ambassador George Clooney criticised the business, saying “clearly this board and company still have work to do”.

Nespresso say all their coffee is ethically sourced and work alongside NGOs including the Rainforest Alliance to ensure certain standards are upheld.

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But an upcoming Dispatches documentary is set to feature video footage of children as young as 11-years-old working on at least one farm in Guatemala alleged to supply Nespresso.

Since the programme makers contacted Nespresso, the company has revealed it found 15 of its farms across the world raised reports of child labour in the past four years, with none in Guatemala.

George Clooney wearing a suit and tie: Actor and campaigner George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso since 2006 (Ian West / PA) © Provided by PA Media Actor and campaigner George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso since 2006 (Ian West / PA)

It added: “Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately.”

A total of six farms were filmed by Dispatches, all with children picking coffee beans or hauling heavy sacks on sites that allegedly supply Nespresso.

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In 2010, the company admitted that children as young as 10 had been forced into labour on its contracted tobacco farms in Kazakhstan, with allegations The company says that it wants to end all child labour practices, although its contractors are still permitted to hire 'interns' to work in such a way.

The coffee farms that Nespresso works with are just the beginning of our sustainability journey. The Positive Cup framework encompasses goals for every aspect of the Nespresso business, from coffee farming Sustainability is embedded into every aspect of the Nespresso business, improving our

Chief executive of Nespresso, Guillaume Le Cunff, told the PA News Agency that the company had stopped buying all coffee in regions under the spotlight during an investigation.

He added: “The idea is to really be on the ground, go farm by farm, and we really think that this programme can have a positive impact at farm level.”

Mr Clooney, who has been the company’s ambassador since 2006, said he was “surprised and saddened” by the revelations.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Guillaume Le Cunff, Chief executive of Nespresso, said the company has a zero tolerance policy on child labour. (Nespresso / PA) © Provided by PA Media Guillaume Le Cunff, Chief executive of Nespresso, said the company has a zero tolerance policy on child labour. (Nespresso / PA)

The company said it has also doubled the number of spot checks of farms in the Fraijanes region, and Mr Le Cunff has dispatched the head of its own ethical AAA labelling alongside the Rainforest Alliance.

He added that questions would be raised with the company’s NGO partner to improve audits of coffee farms, although he admitted farms are given “a day or two days” advanced notice of spot checks.

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Explore the different Discovery Offers that you can purchase from Nespresso as a new Club Member. Choose from a range of pre-selected coffee assortments for both Original and Vertuo machines, designed to welcome you into the world of Nespresso coffee .

Nestlé S.A. (/ˈnɛsleɪ, -li, -əl/; French: [nɛsle]) is a Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate corporation headquartered in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland.

The boss, who has been with the business since 2007, most recently running its US division, also suggested: “We’ll have to discuss with the Rainforest Alliance to see if the methodology (for its audits) is strong enough.”

Current rules to gain Nespresso’s own ethical labelling must include no child or forced labour, however workers are only expected to be paid the local minimum wage, which is £7 a day in Guatemala.

Average coffee pickers earn £10 a day.

Dispatches, which is broadcast on Monday night at 9pm on Channel 4, is also expected to allege that poor pay is forcing children to help support families by working, rather than going to school.

a store inside of a building: Nespresso has built a dominant position in the worldwide coffee pod market. (Nespresso / PA) © Provided by PA Media Nespresso has built a dominant position in the worldwide coffee pod market. (Nespresso / PA)

Nespresso bosses say they pay a 40% premium for coffee to their farmers, although they admitted the only control over the pay to pickers is by asking for local minimum wage laws to be enforced.

Daniel Weston, head of sustainability, said: “The key thing I think is working with farmers is paying them premiums for delivering high quality coffee and for meeting our sustainability criteria.

“That enables… larger farms the ability to pay more to their workforce.”

Nespresso is part of Swiss giant Nestle and does not break out worldwide sales and profits from the coffee pod business, instead combining it with Nestle Health Science and Nestle Skin Health.

That division, with Nespresso the largest part, took revenues of 12.3 billion Swiss francs (£9.7 billion), with underlying operating profits of 2 billion Swiss francs (£1.6 billion).

The company declined an interview with the Dispatches reporter, Antony Barnett, saying it was unwilling to without the names of the farms identified ahead of broadcast.

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