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Social dialogue and living wages bring about innovation in the sugar sector



Social dialogue and living wages bring about innovation in the sugar sector


CNV Internationaal works to improve the position of workers worldwide. Bonsucro is a multi-stakeholder organisation working to improve sustainability in the sugar industry. CNV Internationaal and Bonsucro joined forces in 2019 to improve the production standard for certification for companies in this industry

Include social dialogue

The new draft standard is a good step forward. In particular, setting up management systems and developing a sound policy for sustainability - is a crucial and valuable step forward in embedding sustainability in companies. However, the draft standard lacks the importance of social dialogue and the participation of workers. It should include concrete joint (employee-employer) plans on how to implement this dialogue at company level.

The social dialogue as explicitly mentioned in the draft is too vague and non-binding and therefore, it does not justify the potential strength of the social dialogue. After all, a well-functioning social dialogue ensures constant monitoring of progress within the company and is a source of innovation.



Groundbreaking step forward

The fact that Living Wage has acquired a place in this draft Standard is groundbreaking. Despite the fact that we believe that this should be a fully-fledged core indicator and that raising wages to a living wage by only 10% every three years is far too low. The maximum number of working hours per week, clear and stricter criteria for minimum age, are important improvements in addition to the introduction of complaint mechanisms.

Join and make your voice heard

Until the 31th of july there is the oportunity of everybody interested in a sustainable sugarcane sector to participate in the public consultation. Please join and make your voice heard:   





What is going on?

Like many other certifying organisations, for the past several years, the Bonsucro Production Standard has mainly focused on environmental and economic sustainability. Now it’s time to focus more on the development of social sustainability. While this aspect is already being considered, there’s still room for improvement! Social issues often seem to be less visible in audit reports, issues like extremely long working days, piecework rates far below the living wage, not enough break time, and not enough drinking water. But also the lack of opportunity to freely organise as workers seems to be a challenge to capture in audits.

CNV Internationaal: 

"More attention to people
and workers rights"

CNV Internationaal works actively together with Bonsucro and trade unions in Central and South America to improve the production standard. CNV held a working session in 2019 (see also the video on the meeting results) to gather input for the working group for the revision process. We did this in cooperation with trade unions, Bonsucro representatives, work group members, various experts, and companies from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Bolivia.

Two main issues for the revised standard were addressed during this meeting:

  • The inclusion of social dialogue
  • The concept of living wage.

In our factsheet over here you find all the arguments listed. 

Our role

CNV Internationaal, as a member of Bonsucro will during 2020 actively engage in the discussions on the Bonsucro Production Standard. We do this not by ourselves but in close contact with the trade unions working in sugar in the different countries in Latin America to be make sure that the voices of the workers are heard. We support trade unions as well on the ground in their daily work to strengthen the social dialogue with employers to come up with solutions that benefits all people involved. 


Sugar sector news updates 



To know more about the Bonsucro update process:




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