Business Daily Media

Business News

The Modern Slavery Bill is a start, but it won't guarantee us sweeter chocolate

  • Written by John Dumay, Associate Professor - Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie University
The Modern Slavery Bill is a start, but it won't guarantee us sweeter chocolate

Is the Modern Slavery Bill at present before the Senate onerous?

It is if you are Nestle, because it might make your product more expensive. Or so it suggests in its submission to the Senate inquiry[1].

The bill will require businesses with more than A$100 million in turnover to report annually on their actions to address slavery risks in their supply chains[2].

Cocoa beans are the main ingredient in chocolate. Most come from West Africa, mainly from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The low prices paid to producers mean many harvest their cocoa using child labour and child slave labour.

Where chocolate comes from

Most child slaves on cocoa farms[3] come from Mali and Burkina Faso, two of the poorest nations on Earth. The children, some as young as ten, are sent by their families or trafficked by agents with the promise of money. They are made to work long hours for little or no money.

While our chocolate companies have long known that children and child slaves pick their cocoa, it continues to happen to this day[4].

Read more: Should Australia have a Modern Slavery Act?[5]

In 2001 a deal was reached to end the practice. Known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol[6] in recognition of the two US senators who masterminded the agreement between the governments of West Africa, the United States, the International Labour Organisation and the cocoa industry, it has notched up achievements, but has not yet completely ended child slave labour.

It’s not yet slave-free

Nestle, which once paid insufficient attention to child labour, claims to have become one of the leaders in rooting it out[7]. It touts its transparency policy[8] as one of the world’s best.

Yet Nestle and other companies are complaining about the costs. The bill imposes none beyond the costs of examining the producer’s supply chain and preparing reports. The bill imposes no penalties for non-compliance[9].

Read more: We analysed 101 companies' statements on modern slavery – here's what we found[10]

It’s an approach known as “smart legislation”. It uses roaring (public pressure) rather than biting (hefty fines) to engender change.

It might not work. Companies certainly respond to public pressure, as Nestle did in 2010 after an infamous YouTube video of an office worker biting into an orangutan finger instead of a KitKat.

It said that from then on its Australian chocolate factories would use only segregated, certified sustainable palm oil[11] that didn’t involve the destruction of rainforest.

Read more: Why businesses fail to detect modern slavery at work[12]

But this year Nestle was banned from the industry and non government organisation run Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil[13] because of its failure to submit reports.

It said it was committed to improving supply chain practices “through intervention on the ground, rather than relying on audits or certificates”.

‘Smart’ might not be smart enough

The bill is certainly an improvement on what has gone before, but it is far from certain that “smart legislation” will be enough.

In the meantime it will help if we vote with our mouths and buy chocolate certified as slave-free[14] because it is made from cocoa sourced from outside West Africa.

But it is hardly a perfect solution.

Authors: John Dumay, Associate Professor - Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-modern-slavery-bill-is-a-start-but-it-wont-guarantee-us-sweeter-chocolate-102765

Business Daily Media Business Development

AMI delivers bespoke training scheme to help tourism industry pivot to delivering digital events

The Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) has delivered a bespoke training program to support the tourism industry in strengthening its ability to deliver digital events. Last month, th...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

AWA’s travel survey reveals Australians are ready to start exploring again

Travellers remain optimistic with many still planning holidays for 2020   Anne Wild & Associates (AWA), a leading travel and lifestyle communications agency celebrating 22 years...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Constant product innovation is critical to finding market fit

The significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses worldwide is undeniable. Businesses in every industry have been forced to reinvent the way they operate, communicate ...

Jack Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Airwallex - avatar Jack Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Airwallex

Tips to Keep Your Business Competitive in Today’s Digital Age

Sydney is known to be a startup hub because of the attractive opportunities for business-minded people and the perks of living in the city. Innovation, in particular, is a massive aspect o...

Emily Stuart - avatar Emily Stuart

Digital Agency



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion