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Human rights

Respecting human rights

El Salvador: Working in partnership to remove underage labour

Man harvesting sugar canes

In El Salvador, and other parts of Latin America, there is a tradition of youths working alongside their families in the sugar cane harvest. The ILO has stated that sugar cane harvesting is hazardous and is not suitable for people under 18 years old. Typically many of the underage cane cutters are boys aged 14 to 17 years old. Our Salvadorian operation, Industrias La Constancia (ILC), whose business includes soft drinks, has been working in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company to remove underage labour in the supply chain.

This multi-stakeholder effort includes our supply chain partner, the sugar mills foundation FUNDAZUCAR. The cane growers and sugar mills have agreed procedures to remove underage labour from their activities. The strategy also incorporated the education of all participants in the industry, especially sugar cane growers and rural families, together with the provision of schooling and recreational opportunities in the rural communities.

This partnership has successfully reduced underage labour by around 70% since 2004. However, despite good progress from all parties working hard to address this issue, the challenge remains as it is culturally embedded in the supply chain.