Starbucks and Nespresso are caught up in a child labour row following allegations made by Channel 4 documentary series, Dispatches...
A new investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches makes shocking claims surrounding child labour at coffee farms that supply beans to global giants Starbucks and Nespresso.
Despite both coffee companies claiming to have ‘zero tolerance’ of child labour, the Dispatches documentary, that will be aired tonight, contains allegations that children under the age of 13 are allegedly working a 40-hour week in gruelling conditions.
To put the findings into perspective, Dispatches has also claimed that the children will be paid less in a day than we pay for a Starbucks latte or a pack of Nespresso pods.
The Dispatches team claimed some of the children working on the coffee farms were as young as eight and worked eight hours a day, six days a week.
They were then reportedly paid depending on the weight of the beans they had picked, and Channel 4 reported seeing children struggling to carry their sacks, which weighed up to 100lbs, to the weighing point.
Not only did the children then apparently have to contend with biting insects and snakes, but they would typically earn less than £5 a day, although sometimes as low as 31p an hour Dispatches reports.
As human rights lawyers claim the coffee companies are in breach of international labour regulations, George Clooney, the advertising face of Nespresso, has praised the Channel 4 claims.
The actor, who also joined the Sustainability Advisory board for Nespresso seven years ago, talked about how saddened he is about Channel 4’s claims…
“Having grown up working on a tobacco farm from the age of 12, I’m uniquely aware of the complex issues regarding farming and child labour.
“That’s why I joined the Sustainability Advisory board. The goal then, as it remains to this day, is to improve the lives of farmers. I’m enormously proud of the success of their efforts and I was surprised and saddened to see this story.
“Clearly this board and this company have a lot of work to do, and that work will be done.”
In a statement to Dispatches, Nespresso chief executive Guillaume Le Cunff said: “Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour. It is unacceptable.
“Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately. We have launched a thorough investigation to find out which farms were filmed, and will not resume purchases of coffee from farms in this area until the investigation is closed.”
A representative for Starbucks added: “We’ve launched a full investigation into the claims brought by Channel 4 and can confirm we have not purchased any coffee from the farms in question during the most recent harvest season.”
Dispatches: Starbucks and Nespresso: The Truth About Your Coffee will air Monday 2nd March at 8pm on Channel 4.