Bulleh Shah Packaging (Private) Limited (BSP), Stora Enso’s equity-accounted minority investment in Pakistan with 35% ownership, has commissioned a study from independent consultants on child labour within the agriculture sector around BSP’s biomass collection centers in Pakistan. The aim of the study was to analyze the social, economic and cultural context of child labour in the study area, including the types of activities child workers perform; the socio-economic characteristics of child workers and their families; the effects that child labour has on the health, safety, education and rights of child workers; and the specific hazards of the various agricultural tasks performed by child workers.
The key results of the study confirm that child labour is prevalent in the areas around BSP’s biomass collection centers, and children are sometimes exploited by the people who hire them. Childrens’ role in agriculture has become more prominent due to high poverty levels; parents’ illiteracy and lack of off-farm work skills; and parents being indebted to landlords resulting in bonded labour for families. Many children are working under hereditary labour relationships.
Although the study did not determine that the families interviewed work in Bulleh Shah Packaging’s supply chains, Stora Enso considers it to be likely. The human rights assessment that was carried out in Pakistan in 2014, mapped out different potential human rights impacts related to BSP’s operations. The results were published in a report consolidated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The results of this study substantiate the findings of the Human Rights Assessments, that there is a potential that bonded labour exists in BSP’s agricultural supply chain.
Combatting child labour through a partnership with ILO
Stora Enso will seek to address these findings through the Public-Private Partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO); one of the objectives of the partnership is to look into the root causes of child labour in BSP’s supply chain. Stora Enso has taken substantial measures to address previous findings of child labour through auditing and establishing schools in cooperation with the Pakistani NGO Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi. The ILO will carry out formative field research in 2016 that will further map and investigate the issue in order to design and implement mitigation interventions. Stora Enso will consult with the ILO to determine how the findings of this study can support ILO’s formative research under the partnership.
Although Bulleh Shah Packaging rigorously audits its direct business partners and second-tier biomass sub-suppliers, child labour continues to be a problem in the communities where BSP sources raw materials. As this issue cannot be addressed solely through auditing, BSP has resolved to adopt a more comprehensive approach through the ILO partnership. The ILO will support BSP’s efforts to systematically address the issue of child labour through research into root causes, community-level awareness-raising measures, and capacity building among suppliers, families and young workers, aiming to combat child labour and promote decent work.
Progress in auditing suppliers