(Natural News) A new investigation into the certification standards of coffee plantations all around the world has revealed that, despite prominently and proudly claiming to support “fair trade,” many of the bean suppliers for major corporations like Starbucks are still engaging in slave labor practices behind the scenes.
At the Córrego das Almas farm in Piumhi, Brazil, for instance, which supplies beans to Starbucks, investigators uncovered what Waking Times describes as “degrading conditions” for workers, including “substandard housing without sewerage or drinking water.” However, this same farm has a sign at its entrance prominently stating, “No slave or forced labor is allowed.”
Not only does this same coffee plantation claim to offer living wages to its workers, but it also bears multiple international certifications that supposedly verify this and more – including the prestigious UTZ seal, a Netherlands-based sustainable farming certificate that represents the cream-of-the-crop in high-end, sustainably-produced coffee.
Following an investigation into the Córrego das Almas farm by a Ministry of Labor team, the plantations UTZ seal was ultimately suspended. But the farm still holds a C.A.F.E. Practices certificate, which is owned by Starbucks in partnership with SCS Global Services. Both Starbucks and SCS have agreed to “review the farm’s quality certificate” following the raid, but as of this writing, that certificate is still in place.
The purpose of such certificates is to verify and maintain a host of good practices throughout the coffee supply chain, including ethical purchases, honest labor practices, and various other criteria carefully selected by coffee chains like Starbucks. But it appears as though not enough is being done to ensure their integrity.
“There were lots of bats and mice,” one of the rescued workers from the Córrego das Almas farm told reporters. “We’d buy food and the mice would eat it. Then we had to buy it again.”
“We weren’t paid for holidays, Sundays, nothing,” this same worker added. “And we worked from Monday to Saturday with no record of the hours. During the week, we would start at 6 am and only stop at 5 pm.”
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Starbucks is very good at virtue signaling, but not at actually protecting human rights
In addition to mistreating workers, the owners of the Córrego das Almas farm were also apparently rigging the accounts payable system and stealing the bean crop harvested by workers.
“We’d harvest and they’d leave it [the beans] there to be weighed the next day,” another of the rescued workers explained to reporters. “When we arrived there, the coffee was gone. And then we were humiliated: We complained and they laughed in our faces.”
“I’ve always harvested coffee, and I’ve never been through something like that in my life. I wasn’t even able to send money home.”
Meanwhile here at home, Starbucks continues to pretend as though it actually cares about “human rights,” with endless virtue signaling ploys aimed at tricking gullible consumers into thinking that the company is all about treating humans “equally” and “fairly.”
“This is not the first or second time, and it will not be the last time a certified farm is charged with employing slave labor and violating labor rights,” commented Jorge Ferreira dos Santos, head of the Coordination of Rural Employers of Minas Gerais, about the fact that the findings at the Córrego das Almas farm are not isolated.
“The certification system is weak and not transparent, he added, and fails at ‘taking workers’ views and reality into account,'” he’s further quoted as saying.
There was reportedly a second raid at another nearby coffee farm in the town of Muzambinho, where 15 workers were rescued under similar conditions. One of these workers was a 17-year-old who, along with this individual’s fellow bean-pickers, says employees were forced to work 90 days straight, up to 14 hours per day, without a single day off.
Read StarbucksWatch.news for more coverage of the evils of the Starbucks company.
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