Child labour: Hima Cement and its suppliers have not provided remediation for victims

Kampala, 8 May 2018 – Two years after the child labour scandal in Uganda was uncovered, LafargeHolcim and its suppliers have done nothing to help the former child labourers. (TLC’s (Twerwaneho Listeners Club) partner organization, HURINET, calls on the cement group at today’s General Assembly in Switzerland to finally assume its responsibility. The case also shows that states must regulate the human rights due diligence of companies by law.

A year ago, a study
(http://www.tlcuganda.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/CHILD-LABOUR-IN-THE-SUPPLY-CHAIN.pdf) of TLC and its partner organization Bread for all revealed the extent of the human rights violations in the LafargeHolcim supply chain in Harugongo, in Kabarole District.

Hima Cement, the Ugandan subsidiary of the cement group, and its suppliers had benefited from the work of around 150 children. They were cheap workers in the quarries of Pozzolana, an auxiliary material for cement production. It wasn’t until the scandal became public domain that Hima Cement responded. Since January 2017, the company has only purchased the raw material from mechanized quarries that employ only an adult workforce.

The result: Many small miners lost their jobs and earnings from one day to the next. Children had not only neglected school for the dangerous job in the quarries, but had also endangered their health. But Hima Cement and its suppliers are still shirking their responsibility, even though they would be obliged to provide remediation in accordance with the UN’s guiding principles for business and human rights (UNGP). The company states that an external investigation has found no evidence of child labour in Hima Cement’s supply chain, but refuses to make the report publicly available.

New video statements (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g4uSGH3KgU) of former child laborers once again confirm their former work for Hima Cement’s suppliers. They also show that Hima Cement did nothing to help the victims of child labour, as TLC and HURINET demanded a year ago. Hima Cement has indeed launched the construction of sanitary facilities in a school and programs to provide health advice and increase the income of families. However, the former child laborers are still without help or career prospects.

That is why TLC, Bread For All and HURINET are renewing their call to LafargeHolcim and its suppliers at today’s General Assembly to recognize responsibility for child labour and to support former child labourers so that they can make up for missing school years and training.

However, the Lafarge-Holcim case also makes it clear that the duty of care of corporations must be regulated by law, as provided for in the Responsible Business Initiative in Switzerland. Because voluntary measures or public pressure are obviously not enough to persuade corporations to take responsibility.

For further information:

Gerald Kankya, TLC +256 782 499986: gerald@tlcuganda.org

Yvan Maillard Ardenti, Bread for All, +41 79 489 3824; maillard@bfa-ppp.ch

HURINET – Contact details Patrick Tumwine tumwinep12@gmail.com