Human Rights Violations Within Tobacco Supply Chains
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), approximately 21 million people are victims of forced labour. Worker victimization may take a number of different forms, including human trafficking, low wages, long working hours, unhealthy working conditions, and other modern-day equivalents of slavery.
In a globalized economy, businesses from various sectors source goods from complex chains of suppliers. The ILO estimates that over 450 million people work in supply chain related jobs. Whilst these chains offer many economic opportunities, they may pose serious threats to human rights.
Within the tobacco industry, multinational businesses have long been subject to stakeholder scrutiny and allegations. In Malawi, leaf suppliers received allegations concerning child and forced labour on tobacco farms. In Italy, there were allegations of illegal migrants subject to low wages, child labour, long working hours, and health and safety breaches. Similar cases in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, United States, Indonesia and others, indicate a clear trend where human rights violations are more likely to occur: upstream within the supply chain, at leaf growing farms.