Many people are unaware of the scale and breadth of modern slavery in the UK and Ireland. In fact, all of us are touched by it, directly or indirectly – through the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive or the buildings we live and work in.
At Nestlé, we are continuously working to ensure that people in our manufacturing and supply chains are treated fairly and their human rights are respected. This is essential for the sustainability, integrity and future success of our business.
We conduct ethical audits of our suppliers to ensure their compliance with the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Standard. The case studies below highlight the importance and effectiveness of these ethical audits and our deep commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of our suppliers’ employees.
Getting their just dues
Paying workers ‘overtime’ is not required by law. But we encourage our suppliers to do just that. Our UK Responsible Sourcing Manager has helped one key UK supplier to adopt this practice. We believe that properly rewarding workers for their time is an important part of making them feel valued.
Every little bit counts
We expect all of our suppliers to pay at least the legal minimum wage – ideally a living wage. One UK supplier was deducting 75p from employees’ weekly pay for workwear cleaning, taking the pay below the legal minimum. On learning this, we demanded they stop the practice immediately and reimburse each person for the shortfall in wages.
How long is too long?
We prohibit excessive working hours for employees in our company and our supply chain. When we discovered one of our UK suppliers’ employees were working more than 60 hours a week, we supported the company in recruiting an extra team member. The supplier now regularly reports all its employees’ worker hours to demonstrate compliance with our policy.
Read the case studies in full in our 2019 Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Report
Our ongoing partnership with UK anti-slavery charity Unseen is improving awareness and understanding of this complex issue across our organisation and with key suppliers.
Unseen’s interactive training uses virtual reality headsets to take participants into fields and offices in the UK. There, vulnerable workers share how forced labour and labour abuse can take place in any street, town or city and indeed in any business. This gives an added dimension to our employees’ understanding of modern slavery and raises their awareness of the risks it poses to our own supply chains.
We need to do more
We have also, in recent years, extended our training programme, developed in conjunction with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, to more than 25,000 employees. We had hoped to give human rights training to all Nestlé employees by 2020, but have fallen short. While the programme was initially developed as an online training tool, two-thirds of our employees do not have access to computers, so an offline platform has also been developed.