How a Norwegian SME in the food industry handled remediation
How do you react when human rights are violated in your supply chain? Norwegian jam and juice company, Lerum, found out when the company learned that berry pickers at a sub-supplier were not properly paid.
Human rights or labour abuses may occur somewhere in your supply chain where your company has no direct activity. The connection, however, is still direct, and your company is expected to enter into a dialogue to try and influence the sub-supplier to solve the problem.
In 2019, Lerum became involved in such a case. Lerum procures berries from a supplier that buys them from small Norwegian companies. One of the small companies used a Polish company to provide labour for the berry picking season. Lerum learned from a newspaper article that the Polish berry pickers were not receiving full pay.
Lerum stopped working with the sub-supplier, immediately engaged in a dialogue with the Polish workers, and handled the situation. The company made sure that the Polish company paid financial compensation to all affected berry pickers based on the workers’ timesheets so that everyone received the correct pay.
Subsequently, the contract with the Polish company was terminated. The Polish berry pickers were offered re-employment. Because of a good dialogue between Lerum and the sub-supplier, they were all offered the chance to stay on for the rest of the season at proper pay. Workers opting to return home to Poland were reimbursed for the cost of the return ticket. Subsequently, Lerum became involved in the berry growers’ process of checking timesheets, reducing the risk of recurring violations and damage to both Lerum and the berry pickers.
Benefits for people
- Self-determination: The victims were involved in both the solution and remediation
- Fair opportunities: The berry pickers could continue with fair pay and an opportunity to earn a full season income
- Proper payment: All Polish employees received fair pay for all hours worked.
Lerum about business benefits from protecting human rights
“The outcome with workers given the choice to stay on and pick berries secured a large part of our harvest. It was a good outcome for the workers, Lerum, and the fields“
Sondre Kjærvik, Purchaser and Ethical Trade Manager, Lerum AS