March, Nestlé and Mondelez are among the seven multinationals questioned by eight former illegal workers for “complicity in forced labour” on Ivorian cocoa plantations. By Ouest France
The young Malian was 11 years old when a man approached him at his home in Kouroussandougou. The child, now a young adult whose identity has not been revealed, allowed himself to be convinced to flee the family misery and go to a cocoa plantation in Côte d’Ivoire. The recruiters promised him 25,000 CFA francs, or €38 a month. He never saw the color.
For two years he worked without receiving a penny, says International Rights Advocates (IRAdvocates). On Friday, 12 February 2021, the human rights NGO filed a complaint with the US on behalf of this boy and seven other Malians, former slave children. They accuse the chocolate manufacturers Mars, Nestlé, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Olam, Hershey and Mondelez of alleged complicity in forced labour.
Cheap cocoa harvested by child slaves
The Ivorian plantations in which the complainants claim to have been exploited do not belong to these multinationals. But for Terry Collingsworth, director of IRAdvocates, they have turned a blind eye to the sale of cheap cocoa harvested by slave children. And they continue to draw prices so low that they do not allow producers to pay wages to adults.
At work fourteen hours a day and fed leftovers
The plaintiffs claim to have toiled for free for up to fourteen hours a day, most often fed leftovers. Their ordeal lasted two to four years, before they managed to escape. It is also for those who have not had this chance that they want a trial. In 2018 and 2019, according to a study published in October by the independent research institute NORC 0 (Chicago), 790,000 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were illegally employed for this production in Côte d’Ivoire.
According to NORC, 95% of the miners also handled sharp tools and chemicals. One of the complainants reported spraying pesticides without protection. Another has arms covered with scars due to machete accidents.
Source : Ouest France