Addressing Child and Forced Labor in Coffee Supply Chains in Guatemala

Print Region / Country:

Project Duration: December 2017 - December 2020

Fiscal Year & Funding Amount:
FY2017: USD 2,000,000

The Problem

The United States is the leading importer of Guatemalan coffee, accounting for over a third of the country’s coffee exports. But before that coffee reaches our cups, over half a million Guatemalans select, pick and process the beans. Many of Guatemala’s coffee workers migrate within the country with their families to work in coffee plantations during the harvest. The vast majority of coffee workers are indigenous men, women, and children with low levels of education who come from marginalized populations vulnerable to labor violations. Children travelling with their families are engaged in child labor and work under hazardous conditions. In addition, reports have identified a range of forced labor indicators in coffee production in Guatemala, such as widespread use of recruitment fees, document retention, indebtedness to company stores, restrictions on freedom of movement and overtime and minimum wage violations. Weak government enforcement of labor laws and an uncoordinated, fragmented, ineffective response of the private sector enable systemic labor violations to continue unabated in the Guatemalan coffee sector.

Our Strategy

The project will facilitate sustained, sector-wide change in labor practices through an integrated strategy. It will develop and pilot innovative new social compliance tools that help businesses reduce child labor, forced labor and unacceptable working conditions in business operations and supply chains.  By adopting these tools, businesses will be better able to implement social compliance systems that can prevent, detect and eliminate egregious labor abuses.

A key aspect of the proposed strategy is assembling a powerful coalition of coffee buyers that can collectively exert leverage over suppliers, communicate common expectations, and provide suppliers with the resources, frameworks, guidance, tools and trainings needed to eradicate forced labor, child labor and wage, hour and health and safety violations from their supply chains.

Grantee: Verité

Implementing Partners:
Research-Education-Action-Change (REACH)Catholic Relief Services

Contact Information: (202) 693-4843 / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)