NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 26 – Integrated Kenyan agricultural firm Kakuzi PLC has welcomed a global release report issued by the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) acknowledging the commitments Kakuzi has made on labour rights.
ETI, a global organisation working to define best practice in ethical trade, has acknowledged marked progress in the alternative dispute resolution measures undertaken by Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed Kakuzi PLC.
The ETI report said: “We know how valuable the horticulture export sector is to Kenya and to those whose livelihoods depend on it. We hope that by addressing the legitimate concerns of workers, by building better relationships and stronger working practices, Kakuzi can go from strength to strength based on decent working conditions and a safe work environment. We commend those who have made this agreement possible and urge them to ensure continued progress and transparency for all concerned.”
Speaking when he confirmed the acknowledgement report released late last week, Kakuzi PLC’s Managing Director Mr Chris Flowers said ETI had in its independent evaluation noted positive progress in what they described as ‘credible and meaningful way forward to address allegations.’
The allegations, Mr Flowers reiterated, were shocking to the Kakuzi fraternity and continue to be taken with the seriousness they deserve. The firm’s Board, he disclosed, is already working to establish a high-level Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) whose role will be to provide independent advice to the Board on matters relating to Human Rights and governance structures.
“The report recently issued by ETI underscores our commitment to adopt and maintain the highest governance standards possible in all our operations,” Mr Flowers said. He added that “The acknowledgement also recognises the progress made in developing and rolling out an Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism (OGM) benchmarked against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This will provide the timely and sensitive resolution of any grievances connected to Kakuzi’s operations in a fair, transparent and independent manner.
Mr Flowers further stated that whilst the firm maintains several third-party social and environmental audits, Kakuzi’s commitments go further than just audits. “We have recently commissioned two independent organisations to undertake an employee satisfaction survey and an Independent Human Rights Impact Assessment. Such reports are critical to our operations; we need to know where we are today and what improvements need to be made going forward. This is a journey, in an organisation of this scale with many thousands of employees and different stakeholders taking a detailed look into the corners of your business is essential,” Mr Flowers said.
Established in 1998 and with head offices in the United Kingdom, ETI exists to improve working conditions in global supply chains by developing effective approaches to implementing the ETI Base Code of labour practice.
“We encourage ETI member companies that have a trading history with Kakuzi to maintain a constructive dialogue with the company and to work with others to ensure the independent validation of reported progress. In this way, the remedy can be assured, and trust can be rebuilt.” The progress report stressed.
ETI member companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations work together to tackle the many complex questions about what steps companies should take to trade ethically and how to make a positive difference to workers’ lives.