We are aware about a recent media publication regarding Labor conditions in the Portuguese Odemira region. In this statement we provide more context regarding our practices and vision about this important topic.
As a family-owned business, we fully understand our responsibility to provide a framework for decent working and living conditions for workers throughout our supply chain. We are committed to growing in harmony with the environment and the communities we depend on. We want to ensure the harvesters picking our berries are treated with respect and dignity.
Therefore, Driscoll’s has strict policies for practices that do not abide by the law and its global labor standards. We will continue working with our independent growers to ensure sanitary, health and safety conditions, so that the farmworkers continue to be treated with consideration and respect and their workplaces are clean, safe, and healthy. Our labor standards include very strict policies for practices that do not abide by the local law and our Global Labor Standards, including defined zero-tolerance practices.
Among our tenets, there is zero tolerance for engaging in the following practices:
• Child labor
• Forced labor
• Human trafficking
• Coercion, abuse, and harassment
• Health and safety conditions posing immediate risk to life and limb
More information regarding our vision on worker welfare: https://www.driscolls.com/about/thriving-workforce.
With regard to wages and working hours (including overtime) and all legal framework regarding labor policies and its regulations for the Odemira region, they are defined by the Collective Work Agreement for Odemira region, a document that is negotiated yearly by the Associação Horticultores, Fruticultores e Floricultores of Odemira (AHSA) and Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Agricultura, Floresta, Pesca, Turismo, Indústria Alimentar, Bebidas e Afins (SETTAB). All our independent growers are required to comply to these regulations.
If any of our independent growers’ practices conflict with our standards or the local legal framework, Driscoll’s determines corrective actions. Depending on the situation, a corrective action plan can be installed — or in severe cases it could lead to a termination of the relationship with Driscoll’s.
We have specialized teams focusing on social and labor topics throughout the enterprise, and regional teams actively working with our network of independent growers to provide training and information to support compliance. Our teams also implement both internal and external auditing mechanisms – as well as third-party audits via Grasp, which also verifies working conditions according to contractive labor agreements in place.
Additionally, Driscoll’s supports and encourages all mechanisms that allow workers to report grower noncompliance. Several projects have been initiated regarding this topic. Driscoll’s is working closely with local and national authorities, government, immigration NGOs and grower associations to provide safe communication channels to prevent and denounce abuse & harassment.
• Implementation of documented procedures for workers to raise suggestions, complaints, and grievances in a confidential and safe manner, reinforcing the project CLAIM - The Local Support Center for Migrants Integration, that exists in Odemira since 2018 and provides relevant support to the farmworker community;
• Creating awareness and involvement of not only our workers but also growers and general community to speak up and openly denounce behaviors that are not in line with our values;
• The implementation of the Lusomorango Code of Conduct, which has been approved by all the associated growers.
Beyond implementing and auditing the Driscoll’s labor standards, we have been working and will continue to work closely together with reputable grower organizations and local and national authorities to drive industry progress.
These initiatives include the following:
• Driscoll’s has been actively supporting the growers on the topic of ethical recruitment, by providing recommendations and check-lists for labor agency evaluation. Since 2020 we have expanded the team with external consultants to train and create best practices for growers regarding ethical recruitment and labor providers;
• Social audits like Grasp are carried out periodically with our independent growers and with some temporary labor agencies they work with;
• And we are part of the working group of the Municipal Plan for the integration of Migrants with local authorities and other community stakeholders.
Finally, we can inform you that although we expect and trust all Driscoll’s independent growers in Odemira to comply with the legal framework, Driscoll’s has implemented an even more thorough compliance program in the Odemira region. All Driscoll’s independent growers in Odemira will be audited according to this mechanism as per the start of the season 2022. Along with our efforts, the national authorities, such as ACT (the national authority for labor conditions), have intensified their audits within the agronomic sector to identify, avoid and correct situations as the ones referred to.
We are committed to continue to work with the community and with the broad range of local and national government entities and stakeholders in Odemira, and we will continue our journey to improve and to drive progress on these initiatives.
We are open for any dialogue and collaboration that is constructive and/or initiatives that drive positive change for this specific region or any region we operate in. If you wish to know more on any of these initiatives, please do contact us through the e-mail: press_DEMEA@driscolls.eu.
Portuguese version click here.