How to improve the labor shortage in the coffee industry in Latin America?
– TASTE THE ORIGIN –
According to research on labor issues affecting the global coffee industry through the Verité Civil Society Partnership on Fair, Free and Equal Employment, funded by the US Department of Labor, no. The number of workers on Latin American coffee farms has been severely reduced in recent years. This shortage is largely due to unsafe working conditions, low wages, and the tendency to migrate and export labor from coffee-producing countries. If the staff shortage persists, it could lead to a decrease in coffee production, price fluctuations or increased labor rights risks. How to improve this situation? Let’s find out with 43 Factory Coffee Roaster now!
Causes of labor shortage in the Latin American coffee industry
Coffee production is an important industry for the economies of Latin America, especially in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, etc. However, in recent years, these areas have shown signs of severe labor shortage in the coffee production sector. This can happen due to a number of reasons such as:
In Colombia, the labor shortage can be attributed to the aging of the existing workforce and the tendency of young people to seek employment. The working environment at coffee farms is often quite shabby, hard, with low wages, low benefits, narrow promotion paths and hardly appreciated by society. Meanwhile, today’s younger generation has easier access and more career choices with new opportunities. They often flock to urban areas or developed countries to ensure a better life. There is no replacement of young workers, so the lack of labor is inevitable.
In Honduras, labor shortages are caused by migration to the United States out of poverty, lack of decent work, violence, extreme weather, and crop failures related to climate change. Meanwhile, the growth in coffee production requires the number of workers to increase by about 20-40%. The increasing demand for labor combined with increasing migration makes the labor shortage in this country even more severe.
Labor brokers help improve labor shortages in the Latin American coffee industry
Status of labor brokers
To make up for the labor shortage caused by the migration of indigenous peoples, many labor brokers have recruited workers from immigrants. Brokers will assist farmers in hiring a large number of temporary workers needed during the harvest season.
While the use of labor brokers can clearly benefit coffee farmers as well as workers, it can also increase the risk of labor rights violations if appropriate controls are not in place. fit. Labor brokers are usually paid according to the number of workers employed or as a percentage of the worker’s earnings. This encourages employers to find as many workers as possible, rather than hiring skilled, experienced workers. This can affect coffee production and quality. Because untrained and inexperienced workers can pick unripe or defective coffee cherries. This leads to the need for an additional sorting stage, which increases production costs, reduces coffee quality and value of coffee.
This measure was implemented in Colombia and helped to temporarily alleviate the labor shortage in the country over the past few years thanks to the influx of Venezuelan refugees. However, a 2017 report from Colombia indicates that migrant workers from urban areas of Venezuela collect less coffee than skilled Colombian coffee workers due to their lack of experience. Venezuelan workers earn only a third of what experienced Colombian harvesters earn, as they are paid according to the amount of coffee harvested.
The Verite survey also found that workers hired by brokers generally received lower wages and higher rates of labor rights violations than workers employed directly by farms. Verite also found that brokers who pay for each worker they recruit can trick them into working conditions on farms to recruit as many workers as possible. Brokers may also engage in unethical, illegal practices such as document retention, harassment, labor exploitation, sexual abuse, recruitment fees, or illegal withholding of funds. workers’ wages.
Methods to improve recruitment activities in labor brokerage
Verite’s US Department of Labor-funded Fair, Free, and Equal Employment (COFFEE) Partnership Project is testing ethical recruiting methods and five code-focused tools open source on Brazilian coffee farms. These tools include:
– Background document on recruitment-related risks in the coffee industry in Latin America
– Self-assessment questionnaire for labor brokers
– Guidelines for screening and evaluating labor brokers
– Labor broker monitoring tool
– Employee interview questionnaire focusing on recruitment
The project also implements alternative and ethical recruitment methods such as direct recruitment, permanent hire, profit sharing which has the potential to save costs, improve the quality of harvested coffee and increase employee satisfaction and retention rates, in addition, reduce the risk of labor violations. In addition, Vérité encourages practical industry-wide, multi-stakeholder actions that can reverse the cycle of labor shortages, labor migration, unscrupulous recruitment practices and other risks. other labor risks. In there:
– Companies, governments, and civil society organizations must work together to support farmers in implementing ethical recruitment practices in the coffee industry while ensuring that they are aligned with their needs. each farm.
– Labor brokers can still play a supporting role for farmers and workers, but to reduce the risk of unethical recruitment practices, better screening, selection and monitoring is needed. labor broker.
– Retailers, roasters and traders should develop and implement robust human rights due diligence systems that incorporate complaint mechanisms as well as corrective and preventive action plans.
– Coffee buyers, cooperatives and farmers should develop recruitment and hiring policies, implement supply chain and risk mapping, and conduct ongoing monitoring of recruitment and labor practices. at the farm level.
– The government should also strengthen the capacity of labor inspectors to ensure that labor brokers are effectively registered and monitored in practice.
It can be seen that to improve the labor shortage in the coffee industry in Latin America, it is necessary to take practical and unanimous actions of many stakeholders from the government to consumers. In particular, it is necessary to ensure that the labor shortage is solved in parallel with maintaining fairness and ethics in the recruitment process. Each of us can also contribute to reducing labor risks by advocating for coffee products with transparent, ethical production processes.
You can choose to use coffee at XLIII Coffee – products are selected from farms that cultivate according to sustainable science, ensuring a stable and fair livelihood for workers.
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