The American Supreme Court has refused to throw out the case against Nestle SA, alleging that they are aware of and promoted the child slavery problem in Africa by continuing to supply financial and technical assistance to local farmers in a bid to keep the price of cocoa as low as possible. The case looks set to be a landmark battle that will push the cause of labor used overseas.
Without a dismissal, the case is set to be sent back to a Federal Court in California which will draw the possibility of a trial even closer. The lawsuit which is against three major food companies with Archer Daniels Midland and Co and Cargill Inc being implicated alongside Nestle SA, was filed by former victims of child slavery from Mali in West Africa. This case dates as far back as 2005 and the current ruling was simply the Supreme Court leaving in place a 2014 Appeals Court ruling against Nestle SA that refused to dismiss the case.
The plaintiffs who spoke from a point of gratitude that their ordeal is now causing the spotlight to shine on a vital issue claimed that after being smuggled from Mali as children to start harvesting cocoa, they were forced to work long hours without pay whilst being held captive and beaten.
Nestle which still stands its ground that the accusation is baseless and goes against the very grain of the company’s make-up is said to have made efforts to reduce child labor in its cocoa, hazelnut and vanilla supply chain by building schools, training farmers, monitoring production and other methods according to its website.
Whatever the fall-out from this lawsuit may be, we hope that it will show other companies that promoting child labor is not lucrative and cause them to rather err on the side of caution in dealings like this.