Initially, Bacardi hardly responded to the thousands of people who participated in the #NopartywithBacardi campaign in December 2015.
Fortunately, the company's attitude seems to have changed. A constructive meeting between CNV Internationaal, Fairfood, and Bacardi has by now taken place.
Bacardi has indicated that it is actively involved in various certification processes for fair sugar, such as Bonsucro: a specific initiative for the sugar cane industry. Of course, CNV Internationaal welcomes the fact that the sugar cane industry is working on sustainable practices.
At the same time, we believe it is important that all parties involved - in particular the plantation workers and the local trade unions - are actively represented in this process. This is not the case yet.
Freedom of association
For, while on paper the freedom of association is part of the Bonsucro certificate, in practice this does not (yet) exist in Guatemala. Still, both Pantaleón (one of Bacardi's suppliers in Guatemala) and the local confederation CGTG have told Fairfood and CNV Internationaal respectively, that they are willing to sit down together. That is a great first step that could be the start of social dialogue in the Guatemalan sugar cane sector.
The next step would be for employees of sugar cane companies to have the freedom to join a trade union of their choice. After that, collective dialogue and negotiations on improvements could be initiated.
Step by step
Of course, all this will not happen overnight, but this is the first step in a process that may lead to improvement of the working and living conditions for the 350,000 employees in the sugar industry during the harvesting period in Guatemala.
Bacardi has indicated it will discuss this topic with its suppliers in Guatemala. The rum producer will review what is happening in this area and what the next step should be. The results and the involvement of trade unions will also be discussed with Bonsucro.
To be continued
In short: a promising development. We want to thank 24.964 Facebook users and everyone who called on Bacardi to take its responsibility in last December's campaign. To be continued!
Publication date 29 02 2016