british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Human rights in the supply chain

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Sustainability Report 2011

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.

Human rights in the supply chainOur approach draws 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 leaf managers and technicians also help our contracted farmers to protect the occupational health of their farm workers, for example by using agrochemicals safely.



Our SRTP programme for all our tobacco leaf suppliers covers child labour and other human rights issues.

Through our agronomy support services, we encourage compliance with Group policy and local laws.

We have had a Group-wide Child Labour Policy since 2000.

We were one of the founding members of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation in 2001. See Opens in new window.

We have a number of long-standing community-based programmes to address child labour in tobacco growing areas.

Our suppliers are required to meet criteria on issues including workers’ rights and child labour.

We are incorporating human rights criteria into all our framework agreements with global suppliers. We expect this to be completed in 2012.

In 2012, we will review our approach to human rights following the publication of the OECD’s revised Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This will include a review of our Child Labour Policy with input from the ILO.

Tackling child labour

Child labour is an important human rights issue for any industry with an agricultural supply chain and the tobacco industry is no exception.

We have had a Group-wide Child Labour Policy since 2000, it is a key element of our SRTP programme and we were one of the founding members of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation in 2001.

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.

External allegations

In 2010 and 2011, allegations were made by representatives of the US Farm Labour Organising Committee (FLOC) about conditions for migrant workers on tobacco farms in North Carolina, USA. Reynolds American Inc, an associate company of which the Group is a 42 per cent shareholder, was targeted in FLOC’s campaign.

We take this matter very seriously. In order to understand the complexity of the situation and to encourage progress, we have engaged with the Trades Union Congress in the UK and the International Union of Food workers. Reynolds American Inc. is fully committed to constructively engaging with all stakeholders who share an interest in tobacco farm working conditions in North Carolina and steps to establish this process are underway.


During our interviews with management and key stakeholders we discussed British American Tobacco’s ongoing work to address the issue of child labour in tobacco growing, such as the inclusion of child labour criteria in the SRTP programme and standard child labour clauses for farmer contracts. These activities, along with revisions to British American Tobacco’s Child Labour Policy, highlight the importance the Group places on addressing the issue of child labour in the agricultural supply chain. The impacts these activities have on reducing instances of child labour will need to be closely monitored and outcomes disclosed in future reporting.


I hadn’t appreciated how complicated the child labour issue was before I started working here or how much of our time with farmers would be spent on it. I think it’s really important for people to understand that it’s considered normal among the local communities for children to help out on their parents’ farms. It becomes child labour when the ‘helping out’ starts to interfere with the child’s welfare, safety or education. It’s not always an easy distinction to make, so we help the farmers to understand where the line needs to be drawn and the steps they need to take, like making sure children don’t handle chemicals.

Adeladan Ademola Amidu, Leaf Training and Sustainability Supervisor, British American Tobacco Nigeria

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