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Kinderarbeit
Kinderarbeit im indischen Saatgut-Anbau

Presse Info vom 2. Juli 2013
Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren

Kinderarbeit im indischen Saatgutanbau

Neue Studie zeigt: Kampagne langfristig erfolgreich

Vor zehn Jahren veröffentlichte die //Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren// zusammen mit indischen Partnern eine Untersuchung zum Einsatz von Kinderarbeit im indischen Baumwollsaat-Anbau. Das Ergebnis war erschreckend: Tausende von Kindern, zum Teil nicht älter als sechs Jahre, schufteten für Zulieferer von MONSANTO, BAYER und SYNGENTA. Der Tageslohn für eine 12 Stunden-Schicht lag zumeist bei rund 50 Cent. Wegen des massiven Einsatzes von Pestiziden kam es häufig zu Vergiftungen (ausführliche Infos auf unserer Kampagnenseite).

Lange Zeit leugneten die Konzerne die Probleme. Erst als der öffentliche Druck zu groß wurde und als Investoren wie der norwegische Staatsfonds Druck machten, reagierte BAYER. Die Löhne im Saatgut-Anbau stiegen, bei den Zulieferern sank der Anteil von Kindern unter 14 Jahren deutlich. Dieser Erfolg war nur durch Druck von außen zu erreichen: in Indien war das Problem seit langem bekannt gewesen, aber erst die Schlagzeilen in Deutschland und den USA brachten ein Einlenken des Konzerns.

Eine aktuelle Studie des //India Committee of the Netherlands// zeigt nun, dass die Verbesserungen von Dauer sind. In dem Report werden die Zustände bei der Firma Nunhems, einer 100-prozentigen BAYER-Tochter, mit der Firma Bejo Sheetal verglichen. Die Kinderarbeit bei den Zulieferern von Nunhems ist demnach auf fast null gesunken. Allerdings gibt es weiterhin Probleme bei der Bezahlung: viele Feldarbeiter, besonders Frauen, verdienen weniger, als es der gesetzliche Mindestlohn vorschreibt. 30 % der eingesetzten Arbeiter sind zwischen 15 und 18 Jahren alt; in dieser Altersklasse sind in Indien gefährliche Arbeitsverhältnisse, wie sie die Arbeit mit hochgefährlichen Pestiziden darstellt, verboten.

Philipp Mimkes von der //Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren// kommentiert: „Die Zusammenarbeit von Gruppen aus vier Ländern ist ein gelungenes Beispiel für eine "Globalisierung von unten". Allerdings zeigen die Studienergebnisse, dass noch längst nicht alle Missstände im Saatgut-Anbau behoben sind. Zudem sollte die Firma BAYER nicht länger so tun, als wäre sie von sich aus aktiv geworden: erst der öffentliche Druck und die zahlreichen Medienberichte führten damals zu einer Verbesserung der Situation.“ Der Konzern behauptet auf seiner website wahrheitswidrig, //„unmittelbar nachdem wir Kenntnis über Kinderarbeit in unserer Baumwollsaatgutproduktion erhielten, hat das Unternehmen mit dem Aufbau eines effektiven Paketes von Gegenmaßnahmen begonnen.“//

Die vollständige Studie findet sich unter: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/ATaleOfTwoCompanies.pdf

Two Dutch vegetable seed companies in India compared

Large-scale child labour at Bejo Sheetal - Nunhems close to child labour free

//The Indian company Bejo Sheetal, joint venture partner of Bejo Seeds from The Netherlands, tolerates widespread child labour at the farmers who supply seeds to them. The farmers providing seeds to Nunhems India - part of Nunhems Netherlands - work almost without using child labourers younger than 14.//

This is the main conclusion from the report A Tale of Two Companies – The difference between action and inaction in combating child labour, today published by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and the campaign 'Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work'.

Bejo Seeds and Nunhems: with and (almost) without child labour
The Dutch vegetable seed company Bejo Seeds is as a joint venture partner of Bejo Sheetal jointly responsible for the extensive child labour on the fields in India. A sample taken from 30 farmers who supply to Bejo Sheetal shows that 18% of the workers who grow pepper seeds are children under 14. In the cultivation of tomato seeds this is 12%. The large-scale child labour was also evident from the report Growing Up in the Danger Fields published by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), in 2010. The current situation has hardly improved.
Nunhems has begun to eliminate child labour years ago, prompted by earlier reports of the ICN on child labour in the Indian seed production. A clearly promoted policy of 'zero tolerance' for child labour, a control system with both incentives and penalties, and contributions to the education of children, has reduced the number of young working children to almost 1% of the workers growing seeds for Nunhems.

Both companies: hazardous child labour of teenagers and underpayment women
In addition, at the farmers supplying to Nunhems India and Bejo Sheetal nearly 30% of all workers are children between 15 and 18 years. Hazardous labour for children older than 14 years will be banned in India soon. And this work is certainly hazardous. Children work long hours and are often exposed to dangerous pesticides. They also often drop out of school at an early age.
Nunhems and Bejo Sheetal also have another big problem. Women and girls - over 80% of the workers – often earn less than the official minimum wage. For labourers in Karnataka this wage is more than € 2.00, but women usually earn no more than between € 1.36 to € 1.75. For men’s tasks such as spraying of pesticides and ploughing is paid 40-70% more than “women's tasks” like weeding and fertilization of the seed plants. Also the same task is paid differently to men and women.
Both Nunhems and Bejo have informed us that they will take action to reduce the wage gap between men and women and to raise the payment for women up to at least the minimum wage. After reading of the report Bejo Seeds has also promised to start tackling child labour in India.
Nunhems India and Bejo Sheetal are both leading companies in the Indian seed market. They are among the top 10 of vegetable seed companies and have a combined share of 20% in the market of pepper and tomato seeds. The production takes mainly place in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Majority of workers are Dalit women and girls
Half of the seed workers are Dalits (‘untouchables’) and Adivasi (‘tribals'), and most of the others are from the lowest castes, just above the Dalits. Especially Dalits are often treated ‘differently', according to the report. The report Wages of Inequality from 2012 explains: Dalits are often insulted and humiliated. Furthermore, workers who are not day-labourer but working throughout the whole year with one farmer are almost all Dalits. They are permanently 'at the disposal of the farmer’ and usually work about 12 hours a day. Their overtime is not paid. Apart from that, only a minority of the children is part of the farmers’ family. The majority (78%) of the children is 'hired'.

Child labour in Indian vegetable seed production: more than 150,000 children
The report Growing Up in the Danger Fields, published in 2010, showed that over 150,000 children, of which almost 60,000 under 14 years, are involved in the production of vegetable seeds in three states (Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat). At farmers supplying pepper seeds to Nunhems and to Bejo Seeds were 24.3% resp. 12.5% of the labourers younger than 14. Across the board, the number of children decreased approximately with 25% according to the research A Tale of Two Companies. But the decrease was bigger at companies like Nunhems and the American Syngenta, as well as in areas where civil society organizations and the government have been active. Bejo Seeds now has to 'catch up'. Both farmers pepper seeds to Nunhems India as to Bejo Sheetal performance were then respectively. 24.3% and 12.5% of workers under 14 years.

REPRINT report No Child Labour – Better Wages
In November 2010 the India Committee of the Netherlands and FNV Mondiaal published the report No Child Labour - Better Wages. The report - now being re-issued with together with the report A Tale of Two Companies - was based on field research in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and did conclude that the elimination of child labour led to a remarkable increase in the wages of adult farm workers.
In two villages the elimination of child labour between 2005 and 2009 resulted in an increase in wage for cotton workers of over 150%. In the villages where child labour continued the wage increase was just over 50%. Since child labour was eradicated labour became relatively scarce and adults had more opportunities to negotiate their wages and working conditions. For example, they don’t have to pay interest any more for the loans they are taking.