Nestle, Mars, Hershey named in lawsuit over child slaverytext_fields
Renowned chocolate manufacturers Nestle, Mars, and Hershey, were named defendants in a lawsuit filed by International Rights Advocates in Washington DC. The lawsuit was on behalf of eight men who claimed to be victims of slavery and child labour at cocoa plantations on the Ivory Coast. In addition to the three companies, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Olam and Mondelēz were also mentioned in the lawsuit.
The men sought damages for forced labour and further compensation for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The plaintiffs hailing from Mali claimed they were trafficked during their childhood and forced to harvest cocoa and were employed at the farms through trickery and deception and were not paid. They claimed that the farms profited from their labour without their knowledge at the time. They alleged that, in most cases, children had no idea where they are and were brought to these farms without proper travel papers.
The petition mentions injuries from machete accidents sustained while working at the farms and using pesticides and chemicals without protecting gears. The legal team representing them seconded the claim citing their research in specific farms. The team found out that children were doing hazardous tasks in the farms that supply for at least one company named in the suit.
Cargill, responding to the lawsuit, released a statement that they cannot comment on specifics of the case at the moment, but they have no tolerance for child labour in cocoa production. The statement further read that children belong in schools and deserve safe living condition and good nutrition.
Nestle said that child labour is unacceptable and against everything they stand for. They have explicit policies against child labour and are committed to combating it within the cocoa supply chain by addressing its root causes, they added.
Barry Callebaut said that they are committed to eradicating child labour from there supply chain. Olam spokesperson too claimed they have zero tolerance for child labour and will take necessary actions against such instances. Mars and Mondelez, however, refused to comment on the case.