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Sustainability

Upholding Labor Rights on Farms

Ensuring fair and safe working and living conditions on all farms where we source tobacco

The informal, seasonal, and transactional nature of agriculture work, especially in developing and emerging markets, makes farm workers vulnerable to labor rights abuses and other occupational risks. To address these risks, we set up the Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program in 2011 with the objective to eliminate child labor and to achieve safe and fair working conditions in all farms where our tobacco is sourced. We have continuously communicated our standards and expectations to farmers, and put in place the resources needed to understand the conditions on the farms and bring sensible solutions to problematic practices. PMI partners with Verité, a leading NGO in supply chain sustainability, to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of the ALP program.


The ALP program consists of five key components:

 

1. The ALP Code

2. Training

3. Monitoring

4. Assessments

5. Collaboration

The ALP Code, based on the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and other relevant ILO conventions, sets out seven principles and 32 measurable standards that PMI expects to be met by all 350,000 contracted farmers.

Awareness-raising and training programs for our Leaf Agronomy teams, suppliers, farmers, and workers on the ALP Code and specific areas needing action and improvements in common practices that do not yet meet the standards.

An internal monitoring system performed by 2,800 field technicians to systematically identify and address existing and potential issues.

Third-party, country-specific assessments conducted by Control Union (CU) Certifications, specialized in supply chain auditing, to evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of the ALP program. The results of these CU assessments, including the action plans to address findings, are publicly available as part of PMI’s commitment to transparency.

Collaboration with civil society organizations and governments to improve labor practices on tobacco farms and to enhance the livelihoods of people in tobacco-growing communities.

PMI’s ALP program continues to represent one of the most comprehensive and ambitious efforts by a major multinational company to improve labor practices in a global agricultural supply chain. PMI’s integrated emphasis on direct contracting with farmers, regular on-farm monitoring by suppliers, and targeted programming to address the root causes of labor issues positions the company well to drive real change for farmers and farm workers.

  • Dr. Shawn MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Verité

Our Focus during 2016 to 2018

We helped farmers and workers to understand their respective rights and obligations and formalize farmer-worker relationships. We provided mediation in case of disputes or concerns on either side. We encouraged changing mindsets in relation to child labor. And we supported the improvement of key practices such as standards for worker accommodation and facilities, water access and availability of personal protective equipment.

We also made significant progress in standardizing our processes and systems and implementing them, supplier by supplier, country by country. We created a comprehensive global ALP monitoring data set, which includes both individual farm profile data and monitoring data for every farm contracted by PMI or its third-party tobacco leaf suppliers. This was a major milestone in institutionalizing the ALP program. Our investment in accurate farm-by-farm data gives us the most comprehensive overview of the challenges faced by tobacco farmers and workers since the program was launched in 2011.

 

We now have a more accurate sense of the program’s overall performance, identifying areas of positive improvement and patterns of persistent, challenging problems. We therefore took the decision to deploy a “Step Change” approach to achieve significant improvements in areas with intensive and targeted needs.

Making A 'Step Change'

Our ‘Step Change’ approach is focusing on the most recurrent and difficult problems across different geographies, including:

 

  1. Hazardous Work Performed by Children 
  2. Adequate Accommodation for Workers
  3. Payment of at least the minimum wage for workers 
  4. Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Crop Protection Agents (CPA) and Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS) prevention

 

This approach is carefully analyzing the root causes of the identified problems, to improve the responsiveness of our day-to-day operational practices, including due-diligence, monitoring, follow-up and consequence management, and to shape our work with stakeholders. As a result, we developed comprehensive and ambitious action plans, taking into consideration the local, social and economic drivers of priority problems that we aim to eradicate. These plans are currently being implemented and will be a fundamental part of our program in the coming years.


Together with Verité, we are increasingly partnering and collaborating with key stakeholders, including local NGOs and governments. We will transparently report our progress on a quarterly basis.

Video December 14, 2018

PMI's Sustenta Program in Mexico

Video June 21, 2018

Field Technician

Video June 21, 2018

Farmer Testimonial

PMI’s commitment to achieve substantial 'Step' Changes on key persistent labor issues represents a new phase and level of seriousness in the evolution of the ALP program. The new initiatives seek to tackle challenging labor problems at their roots, addressing the underlying drivers of poor practices in a customized and multi-pronged way.

  • Elizabeth Garland, Senior Director, Verité

Transparency

We believe that disclosing our progress and the challenges we face is important in addressing the issues of child labor and other labor-related abuses in our tobacco supply chain. We publish third-party assessments of our ALP program, conducted by Control Union. The assessments aim to evaluate the current status of farm-labor practices and risk areas on a given tobacco growing geography, and include comprehensive plans prepared by the suppliers to address the findings. The results of these assessments and the action plans are disclosed below.

We also published comprehensive progress reports up until 2016. Going forward, these comprehensive reports will be replaced by our new ALP 'editorials' on this page to allow more regular communication about the program. We will also continue our regular ALP reporting in our annual Sustainability Reports.

You may have seen the recent articles published by The Guardian newspaper concerning child labor in tobacco growing. Philip Morris International (PMI) was contacted for input and we provided statements and a series of additional facts based on their inquiry. The full overview of our responses to The Guardian is available below.

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