Philip Morris International (Inc.) welcomes today’s release of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, ‘Tobacco’s Hidden Children ,’ which sheds light on child labor and other labor abuses on tobacco farms in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“This report uncovers serious child labor abuses that should not occur on any farm, anywhere. Human Rights Watch acknowledges the work PMI has done to address these issues through our Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) global program to reach nearly half a million smallholder farmers. However more work remains to be done to eliminate child and other labor abuses in tobacco growing,” said Chief Executive Officer André Calantzopoulos. “We are grateful to Human Rights Watch for bringing these issues to light, recognizing the steps we have made to constructively engage with others to find real and lasting solutions.”
PMI has engaged in an ongoing dialogue with HRW about the company’s efforts to address labor abuses in its supply chain and today’s report includes the following description of PMI’s efforts in this area:
“Of the companies approached by Human Rights Watch, Philip Morris International (PMI) has developed the most detailed and protective set of policies and procedures, including training and policy guidance on child labor and other labor issues which it is implementing in its global supply chain. PMI has also developed specific lists of hazardous tasks that children under 18 are prohibited from doing on tobacco farms, which include most tasks in which children come into prolonged contact with mature tobacco leaves, among other hazardous work.”
In addition, HRW notes that,“PMI provided extensive detail about implementation of other aspects of the ALP in the US and globally. PMI also shared with Human Rights Watch details about its monitoring of growers’ adherence to the ALP in the US and globally, including plans to systematically monitor 100 percent of its farms in the US by 2015.”
In addition to identifying a number of labor abuses found in the United States, HRW’s report also includes recommendations to the U.S. government and others on how to address these abuses. This includes recommendations to the industry which are broadly in line with PMI’s existing global program and practices, developed with the guidance and support of internationally-renowned and leading NGO in the field of social responsibility,Verité .
Verité’s CEO, Dan Viederman said, “Human Rights Watch’s detailed report confirms that child labor and other labor abuses persist – and indeed are common -- in the production of agricultural goods in the United States. These risks are born most directly by farmworkers and their families, including children whose labor is in no one’s interest. HRW’s comparison of the efforts by the range of corporate buyers of US-grown tobacco demonstrates that most companies have a long way to go even to admit they have responsibility for working conditions in US farms. In contrast, PMI, with which Verité has worked over several years, has stepped up to its responsibility and has developed and implemented a comprehensive program. While that program hasn’t yet solved the deep challenges of fair and safe work in tobacco, it is systematically applied, rigorously evaluated and substantially resourced."
PMI’s commitment in this area includes continued support and active participation in a multi-lateral initiative (the Farm Labor Practices Group - FLPG), an effort that involves the U.S. Government, NGOs, farmer and worker representatives as well as tobacco buyers. PMI invited HRW to present the preliminary findings of their report to the FLPG earlier this year and as a result, a dedicated working group on child labor has been created to discuss HRW’s recommendations and explore opportunities for a common approach.
Written correspondence between PMI and HRW about the issues raised in today’s report can be found under ‘Related downloads’ on our website here.