The new version of the Bonsucro Production Standard aims to ensure greater sustainability in the worldwide international sugar value chain, and is close to getting approved. Together with European trade union organisations and investors CNV Internationaal expects the revised standard to provide a roadmap towards a living wage. “Including living wage in the standard is a major improvement to increase the social impact of this main sustainability standard of the sugar supply chain. We applaude Bonsucro for taking this step to make it ready for the future”, comments CNV Internationaal’s managing director Elles van Ark.
CNV Internationaal, as a member of Bonsucro, has been actively involved in updating the standard throughout the revision process. We have been engaging in social dialogue processes with Bonsucro, members of Bonsucro, trade unions in the sector, plantations, mills, traders, buyers and investors to seek solutions towards greater social sustainability and labour improvements for the millions of workers producing essential ingredients of our daily food. They are indispensable to make global growth and prosperity possible every day.
“We are convinced that the new Bonsucro standard will be the beginning of a fertile and constructive collaboration between plantations, factories, traders and buyers of sugarcane products in a taskforce within Bonsucro"
Pathway to living wage
“We are convinced that including a pathway to a living wage in a progressive and concerted manner will enhance the reputation of this standard and help to avoid serious labour and human rights violations, such as child or forced labour”, says CNV Internationaal’s Elles van Ark. “We believe that the mapping of the living wage gap as an indicator in the production standard as the first step towards a real living wage is very reasonable and achievable for the various Bonsucro farm and mill members.”
Sugar workers trade unions call for clear indicators to improve conditions
Latin American trade union organisations have high hopes for the updated Bonsucro standard to substantially improve conditions for workers and modernise the sector. At the same time they are calling for explicit and clear labour indicators to be taken into account.
The Network of Sugar Workers' Unions of Central America, the Sugar Cane Workers' Union Federation of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the Colombian Confederation of Workers-CTC, Unsitragua Histórica of Guatemala, the General Central Confederation of Workers of Guatemala CGTG and the Confederation of Sugar Agroindustry and Derivatives Workers of Nicaragua, expect "the new Standard is a step forward and not a step backwards, that it takes into account the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that it promotes decent work best practices. It can pay special attention to ensuring that sugar companies pay decent wages and abandon over-exploitation of labour, among other aspects."
European investors call on food companies to move living wage forward
CNV Internationaal welcomes the active engagement of European investors in the international sugar chain to make the sector more socially sustainable and improve labour conditions. Together with the PLFW Platform Living Wage Financials - whose assets total over EUR 4,6 trillion - CNV Internationaal has presented a Roadmap for the inclusion of a living wage in the Bonsucro Standard, last 28 October 2021.
Besides presenting a joint roadmap the investors are sending a clear message to the main international food companies. For the short term they call on the buyers to express their support for the mapping of the living wage gap as an indicator in the production standard as the first step towards a real living wage. For the long term they call on the companies to start adopting the roadmap as a tool for their companies to move living wage forward in the sugar supply chain. An important aspect in the roadmap is that all stakeholders in the supply chain work together in a taskforce for a living wage. The implementation of a living wage follows a step by step approach carried out through joint responsibility.
The roadmap shows how to progressively achieve living wage
The aim of the roadmap is to motivate the different actors in the chain to cooperate in various ways, including the use of social dialogue and pilot projects, to progressively achieve a living wage for workers in the sugar sector. It clearly points out the key role trade unions have in achieving a living wage in the sector.
“We are convinced that the new Bonsucro standard will be the beginning of a fertile, constructive collaboration between plantations, factories, traders and buyers of sugarcane products towards a living wage for workers in the sugar sector”, says CNV Internationaals’ director Elles van Ark.
“It is time to act. To modernise. To take a major leap towards real sustainability in the international sugar chain. Bonsucro can play a significant role in achieving this goal.”
The Sugarcane Value Chain in Latin America and Asia
Main Actors, Market Mechanisms, Labour Issues and Opportunities
Publication date 27 10 2021