Global food giant Nestlé is being sued over allegations of active involvement with child labour in the Ivory Coast, Africa. A motion from the company to dismiss the court case was rejected by the US Supreme Court.
According to the lawsuit, filed by the International Labour Rights Forum, child slaves would have been used to harvest cocoa for Nestlé’s chocolate products. Along with two other companies, Nestlé itself was allegedly aware of the issue, but nonetheless continued to provide assistance to local farmers in order to get the cheapest product.
In the aftermath of the decision Nestlé expressed disappointment, maintaining that they have nothing to hide.
“The Supreme Court very well may hear this case at a later date. The announcement simply means that lower courts will have to engage in further proceedings first. We look forward to those proceedings in the lower courts, and believe very strongly that the law and fact are on our side,” the company declared in a statement, whilst calling the use of child labour ‘unacceptable’ and contrary to the company’s values.
A recently published report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), making claims of forced labour in the sugar cane supply chain in Malawi, focused on a subsidiary of UK-headquartered AB Sugar, accusing it of land grabs, labour rights violations and pollution, has been labelled by the company as inaccurate and publicity-seeking. “With limited detail, SOMO has attempted to use Illovo Sugar Malawi as a case study to gain publicity at the expense of accuracy. ISML is not, and has never been, involved in ‘land grabs’,” the company said in a statement. “It is therefore regrettable that our leading approach to land has not been recognised nor our internationally acclaimed land guidelines. It is also regrettable that ISML’s significant contribution to the livelihoods and economies of the Malawian communities has been ignored.”