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Commitment to fair recruitment and due diligence in the sugar and palm oil industry of Guatemala

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Dates

2021 - Present

Type of practice

Strategy/framework

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Summary

Through the technical assistance of the REFRAME Project as well as a consultative process, companies have been sensitized to the fact that the responsibility to respect human rights comes with accountability and transparent reporting requirements, in accordance with established criteria. Subsequently, it was agreed to develop two specific sectoral policies, one for the sugar sector and the other for the palm oil sector, which take as a reference the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, as well as the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment (GPOG). Companies were provided with guidelines for the verification of good business practices in the respect of human rights, operational complaint mechanisms and suggestions for remedial action. Examples of good practices were also described in the guide along with criteria to measure their effectiveness.

Organizations

Main Implementing Organization(s)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Partner/Donor Organizations

Chamber of agriculture - Cámara del Agro CAMAGRO
Sugar producers association - Asociación de Azucareros de Guatemala, ASAZGUA
Palm oil Producer asociación - Gremial de Palmicultores de Guatemala, GREPALMA

Benefit and Impact

Following the consultations, the sugar producers association ASAZGUA, the palm oil producer association GREPALMA and its partners made a declaration of commitment to observe and comply with the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work – taking into account the UN Principles on Business and Rights Human Rights and the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment. They committed to promoting respect for these rights throughout value chains, including the right to freedom from forced labour, which is often the result of unfair recruitment.

ASAZGUA, GREPALMA and its partners committed to doing due diligence to prevent, mitigate and resolve current risks throughout value chains, including those related to recruitment irregularities and human rights violations. ASAZGUA committed to “maintain the timely periodicity of the due diligence evaluations in matters of human rights to our associates“, and to “give continuity to the monitoring, evaluation and improvement system in social, labour and environmental aspects establishing goals of specific improvement for each associate“.

GREPALMA committed to training their partner agencies in human rights and fair recruitment and incorporating a mechanism to verify compliance. These actions have been validated with every participating company. Furthermore, the Sustainability Department of GREPALMA has been tasked to deal with queries related to compliance with the policy. GREPALMA also ensures follow-up to the implementation of the policy through its Board of Directors and shares its bi-annual progress reports through its communication platforms with concerned parties. The content of the adopted human rights policies will also be reviewed annually as part of an evaluation process.

Thousands of (migrant) workers benefit from these measures. The 11 associated mills in ASAZGUA generate around 63 thousand direct jobs and 315 thousand indirect ones in the sugar sector, while the palm oil sector in Guatemala generates 28,575 direct jobs and applies to 143,000 indirect beneficiaries.

Key Lessons

The key lesson learned related to the need to maintain strong communication and coordination with relevant entities. This allowed ownership of the process and sustainability of the action. Strict coordination was carried out with the Labor Commission of the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations CACIF, which led to establishing training processes and carrying out activities at the binational level with employers in southern Mexico. The action aimed at promoting fair recruitment, highlighting the critical role of companies in its effcetive implementation. Taking as a framework and aligning to the human rights policy approved by CAMAGRO, the development of human rights policies in 2 agricultural sectors (sugar and oil palm) was considered strategic to promote capacity-building, due diligence and dialogue with human rights stakeholders. The process included consultation workshops using the ILO's General Principles and Guidelines for Fair Recruitment as a refence, and pilot companies were then selected to implement and validate the due diligence system.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

As the process continues and new challenges will emerge there is aneed to continue maintaining an open channel of communication, coordination and technical guidance from the different ILO specialists to quickly respond to emerging questions and adapt or develop new tools and methodologies that best suit the needs of employers' organizations

Innovation

The Chamber of Agriculture represents small, medium, and large producers of oil palm and sugar, establishing with them a strategy that would allow these sectors to build their own human rights policies and that address fair recruitment. They recognize that the approach to respect for Human Rights is a fundamental pillar to achieve this sustainable development of the palm oil and sugar agro-industry. Grepalma also defined as part of its lines of action, the provision of guidelines for the understanding and implementation of due diligence mechanisms for the identification, prevention, mitigation, and response to current or potential human rights risks, including the principles of fair recruitment, allowing workers and their families to have a guarantee of compliance with and respect for their labor rights. Thousands of workers, including migrants, benefit from these measures.

Date submitted:

03 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.

 

 

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).