At the end of December 2014, Alliance One and several other tobacco companies signed the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco (ECLT) Foundation Pledge of Commitment. This action reinforces all ECLT members’ policies and practices in combatting child labor in tobacco growing and aligns with international best practices established by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The Pledge requires tobacco buyers to make the appropriate policy commitment to eliminate child labor, implement due diligence to mitigate and account for the adverse impact of child labor in supply chains, and provide for/or cooperate in legitimate processes of remediation. It also requires that tobacco buyers help build the capacity of farmers to understand and meet the obligations of our child labor policies and to work with other stakeholders to promote these requirements.
When Alliance One was asked to sign the Pledge, we did not hesitate. Alliance One has been working toward these same goals for several years and we are continually strengthening farmer education and farm monitoring programs. Our Child Labor Policy was introduced in 2005 and, since rolling out our Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program in 2011, we have implemented monitoring and education programs in each of our origins around the world to educate our staff and our contracted growers about the ALP principles, including child labor.
Identifying and eliminating child labor in tobacco production is not an easy task, and throughout our visits to hundreds of thousands of contracted growers worldwide, we have found a variety of reasons why some of our contracted growers may not fully comply with our Child Labor policy. In many origins, farming families need additional help during labor-intensive times of the season. In others, it is because of a lack of access to educational opportunities. And yet in others, it is because the farmer wants his children to learn the business and keep the farm in the family for future generations.
Whatever the reason, we are most successful in addressing the issue when growers trust Alliance One and see value in our expertise. It involves collaborating with the grower to search for the root causes and agree on solutions. In some instances, we may find a need to support the renovation of local schools or develop afterschool programs in areas lacking educational resources. In others, additional training is required to help the farmer better understand our ALP program and what needs to be done in order to remain in compliance. Or, we may find that by helping farmers reduce the number of labor days needed to produce their crop, we can also minimize child labor risks.
In November 2015, our Board of Directors approved an expanded Child Labor Policy which further outlines our Company’s expectations for our child labor elimination efforts. This policy forms the basis for local child labor policies which are used to further enhance implementation of our ALP program.
While more work remains to be done, we have made significant progress on this issue. Customers, who rely on us to protect the integrity of their supply chains, have complimented our commitment and appreciate that they can rely on the data we are reporting. Through GMS, we are able to provide our customers with real-time visibility into our farmer base and demonstrate how we determine which tobacco-growing areas are at a higher risk for using child labor and the steps that we have taken to reduce the risk.Back to News