We see a fundamental link between acting responsibly and generating profits
Human rights issues are a concern in many parts of the world where we operate. We use our influence where we can to improve conditions in our supply chain. We do this through our supplier standards and partnership projects with suppliers and third parties.
In 2012, we reviewed our approach, drawing on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises .
Human rights criteria are incorporated into our major supply chain management programmes, including our Business Enabler Survey Tool and our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme. Our suppliers are required to meet criteria on issues including workers’ rights and child labour, we encourage compliance with Group policy and local laws, and we are incorporating human rights criteria into all our framework agreements with global suppliers.
Labour standards in tobacco growing
Referring to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work we set expectations of working conditions and labour standards for farmers, their families and hired workers through our SRTP programme.
Our leaf managers and technicians also help our contracted farmers to protect the occupational health of their farm workers, for example by using agrochemicals safely.
Child labour in tobacco growing
Child labour is an important human rights issue for any industry with an agricultural supply chain and the tobacco industry is no exception.
It’s often part of local tradition and culture for children to assist their parents with domestic chores and they are often engaged in some sort of agricultural activity. However, they are vulnerable to exploitation and particular efforts should be taken to protect their fundamental rights.
We try to address this by making clear the distinction between this tradition and child labour. Where work impedes a child’s welfare, safety or educational development, it is considered child labour. This includes instances where children do not attend school because they are working, and where their work involves handling hazardous machinery or chemicals.
We work actively to tackle exploitative child labour in tobacco growing and agree with the position and guidance provided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its efforts to promote the rights of the child and for decent work places for all. This includes Convention 138 on minimum age and Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.
We have had a Group-wide Child Labour Policy since 2000, which can be downloaded below. The Policy is currently under review with input from the ILO. A new version will be published in 2013.
Child Labour Policy (19 kb)
Our SRTP programme also has a specific focus on child labour. Through SRTP we seek to understand what children are doing and why, promote access to schooling and track efforts to address vulnerability where appropriate.
We continue to play an active role in the ECLT Foundation along with others in the industry, trades unions and the ILO. The Foundation runs community-based projects to raise awareness of child labour issues; improve access to education and health services for children; and build local capacity to address the problem. A number of our companies in tobacco growing countries also run their own community-based programmes to address child labour.
You can find out more at the Foundation’s website www.eclt.org .