Nestle questions anti-slavery bill

Cacao beans in the hands of an Ecuadorian farmer.

A new anti-slavery bill being introduced to address modern slavery in supply chains has been questioned by Nestle.

The bill will require Australia’s largest businesses to publish annual statements on steps they take towards addressing modern slavery within their supply chains and within operations.

Nestle has said the bill could cost customers, with potential additional costs required by companies needing to make the reports.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported that Nestle informed a senate committee that the reporting requirements could add “cost and time”, “which will need to be borne somewhere”.

“While we are of the view that the mandatory requirements are sensible, in practical terms this difference means that multinational companies will have to prepare bespoke statements for
each country in which they are required to report,” Nestle’s submission said.

” … Not all suppliers may bear those costs themselves; some may pass them on to customers/consumers.”

A Nestle spokesperson told C&I: “Nestle has actively supported the development of this Bill over the last year and more, collaborating openly with government, civil society organisations and business, and is keen to see it introduced.”

“We’ve had UTZ Certified cocoa in all our retail blocks and bars in Australia for over five years as a result of the work we are doing to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities –  and this has happened without increasing the price of our products,” the spokesperson said.

“Nestle is one of a number of business and civil society organisations to have written to the Prime Minister expressing our support for the bill,” which can be read here.

The reports would require businesses to cover issues related to human trafficking, slavery, sexual servitude and child labour, the SMH reported.

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