How a Norwegian SME in the food industry handled remedy
What do you do when there are human rights violations in your supply chain? That’s what Norwegian jam and juice company Lerum found out in 2019 when they discovered that berry pickers at a subcontractor were not being paid a proper wage.
Sometimes negative impacts occur somewhere in the supply chain where you as a company don’t have direct operations. In such a situation, the company is directly connected and you are expected to engage in a dialog and try to influence the subcontractor to resolve the issue.
In 2019, the jam and juice company Lerum was involved in a case that they were directly connected to. Lerum purchases berries through a supplier that buys berries from various small Norwegian companies. One of these small companies had used a Polish company to provide labor for the berry picking season, and through press coverage, Lerum found out that the Polish berry pickers were not being paid a proper wage.
Lerum stopped the collaboration with the subcontractor and immediately started a dialog with the Polish employees and handled the situation. They made sure that the Polish company paid financial compensation to all berry pickers, and that it was based on the pickers’ timesheets so that everyone received the correct salary. The contract with the Polish company was then terminated.
The Polish berry pickers were offered re-employment. Through good communication with the subcontractor, they were all offered to continue for the rest of the season – with a fair wage. If they wanted to go home instead, they were reimbursed for the financial costs of the return trip. Subsequently, Lerum has become involved in the berry farmers’ process of checking timesheets. This reduces the risk of future claims for both Lerum and the berry pickers.
Benefits for people
- Self-determination: The victims were involved in both resolution and redress.
- Fair opportunities: The berry pickers were able to continue with fair wages and were able to secure the season’s income.
- Fair payment: All Polish employees were paid a fair wage for all their hours.
Lerum on the business benefits of working with human rights
“The solution where the workers could choose to stay and pick berries secured a large part of our harvest. It was a good solution for the workers, Lerum and the fields!”
Sondre Kjærvik, Buyer and Ethical Trade Responsible, Lerum AS