Verité is pleased to announce it is the recipient of two U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs (DOL-ILAB) grants for its work in Guatemala and Ghana. DOL-ILAB’s mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the United States and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards, and combating international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.
Verité’s exploratory research into the labor conditions in Guatemala’s sugar industry has revealed a high degree of vulnerability to labor trafficking in this sector. This research found evidence of recruitment abuses, child labor, restrictions on workers’ right to freedom of association, gender-based discrimination, wage and hour violations, threats to workers’ health and safety, inhumane living conditions, and negative impacts on communities surrounding sugar plantations.
Verité is pleased to announce the publication of our latest research report, “Risk Analysis of Labor Violations Among Farmworkers in the Guatemalan Sugar Sector: A Report on Findings from Rapid Appraisal Research.” This research revealed a high degree of vulnerability to labor trafficking for workers in the Guatemalan sugar sector. Our exploratory research found several indicators of human trafficking, including: deceptive recruitment, debt bondage, child labor, inadequate food, surveillance, risks to worker health and safety, and hazardous working conditions. Verité found that workers are subjected to conditions that can have an alarming impact on their long-term health and can be subject to labor abuses from the moment they are recruited.
The celebration of Earth Day this month provides the opportunity to reflect on the overlap between labor rights and the environment. Verité has found a strong correlation between labor abuses and environmental damages. Often, activities that violate environmental regulations take place in areas where the government lacks the capacity to adequately enforce the law. Verité’s research into palm oil and illegal gold mining, for example, has found that the absence of the rule of law at remote worksites can result in permanent ecosystem damage, dangerous working conditions, and risk of forced labor.
Verité has previously carried out research on labor conditions in coffee and palm oil production in Guatemala, and has generally found workers employed in agriculture, including sugar production, in Latin America to be highly vulnerable to exploitation, including labor trafficking. While there have been no recent in-depth studies on worker vulnerability to labor trafficking in the Guatemalan sugar sector, Verité findings from previous research in the Guatemalan agricultural sector and reports from other organizations that have carried out research in other Central American countries indicated a high level of risk among Guatemalan sugarcane harvesters. Therefore, Verité chose to carry out research in the Guatemalan sugar sector.