GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) and Japan Tobacco (JTI) have signed a new partnership to promote understanding of and respect for fundamental labour rights in tobacco growing communities worldwide.
Under the partnership, the ILO will conduct research into forced labour, discrimination, freedom of association and collective bargaining, as well as occupational safety and health, in farming communities in countries where JTI purchases tobacco.The partnership includes creating new research material which the ILO will use to train key JTI staff. These staff will in turn train JTI agronomists who visit tobacco farms on a regular basis. Equipped with enhanced knowledge and skills, the agronomists will be in a better position to detect and respond effectively to violations of fundamental labour rights.
Their farm-level observations will feed into JTI’s Agricultural Labour Practices (ALP) programme.
The ILO is supporting the ALP programme to adopt a holistic approach to promoting fundamental labour rights so as to promote understanding of how they are mutually reinforcing and interdependent. Farm-level observations are the critical first step in this effort. In addition, the ILO will work with JTI to develop a framework for impact assessment in supply chains to ensure that JTI understand what impact their efforts have on labour rights, and to enable them to target their interventions more effectively.
ILO promotes such impact assessments with employers, including through the Child Labour Platform, a forum for businesses to exchange experience and know-how in tackling child labour in supply chains, of which JTI is a member.The impact assessment framework will be relevant for employers in other sectors and will be a valuable tool to increase the effectiveness of corporate due diligence globally.
The new partnership complements the ILO’s long standing collaboration with JTI in tackling child labour in tobacco growing communities.
Since 2011 the ILO has worked with JTI to provide targeted capacity building and assistance to tobacco growing communities, aligned with and supportive of government efforts, most notably by implementing the ARISE programme, which tackles child labour in a number of tobacco producing countries.
Moussa Oumarou, Director of the ILO’s Governance and Tripartism Department, said: “Efforts to eliminate child labour are more likely to succeed if they are embedded in an integrated, rights-based approach that also promotes decent work for adults. The ILO is very pleased to enter into this new phase of our partnership with JTI. It is a logical next step and we are confident it will produce lasting, positive change in rural communities worldwide.” Recognizing the value of ILO expertise, Paul Neumann, Senior Vice President in charge of JTI’s tobacco leaf buying operations commented: “We are delighted that our partnership to end child labour in tobacco, ARISE, will now also cover JTI’s Agricultural Labour Practices programme. The recent four-year extension of ARISE allows us to continue actively improving labour standards in our value chain.”