Verité has been working on recruitment and labor issues in the coffee sector since 2008, and has completed two projects in the Brazilian coffee sector.
Verité is currently implementing the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Cooperation on Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) Project, which consists of the development of a Toolkit to promote improved labor practices in the Latin American coffee sector and pilot projects to address labor risks in three key coffee producing countries — Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. The pilot projects seek to develop and implement innovative, cost effective approaches that mutually benefit workers and coffee producers alike, while also piloting and refining the tools created through the COFFEE Project.
Verité research has found that the use of labor brokers (including village-level agents, recruiters, labor contractors, and crew leaders) is widespread throughout the Latin American coffee sector, including in Brazil. Coffee producers often turn to labor brokers when there is an urgent need for workers, especially during the labor-intensive harvest season. While labor brokers can play an important role in coffee supply chains by ensuring a constant supply of farmworkers, unscrupulous brokers may engage in unethical practices that put workers at risk, and create legal and reputational risks for coffee producers, traders, and roasters alike. Therefore, it is necessary for private sector actors to improve their understanding of recruitment dynamics and related risks, and to establish systems for identifying and addressing these risks in their supply chains.
Partnering with local CSOs and coffee companies, this pilot project will work to improve the implementation of social compliance systems that promote acceptable conditions of work and reduce labor-related risks in Brazil’s coffee supply chain. The pilot project includes desks research and surveys to increase understanding of recruitment dynamics in the Brazilian coffee sector; trainings on identifying, addressing, and preventing recruitment-related risks; the development of tools focused screening and monitoring labor brokers and interviewing workers on their recruitment experiences; and the piloting of tools and ethical recruitment models on select coffee farms.
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