Forced Labour in Tobacco

Tobacco labour

The High Court has denied a request from two major UK tobacco companies to dismiss a case which claims they have exploited Malawian farming families and engaged in child labour practices.

In 2018 The Guardian reported children aged 14 and under were kept out of school and employed in hard and sometimes harmful physical labour to produce the tobacco leaf that fills cigarettes sold internationally. Families from southern Malawi were being trafficked to the tobacco field in the north of the country where they had to work seven days a week. Families needed to build their own homes and take out loans until harvest time. Often the income from the harvest did not cover the loan leaving families in debt.

Martyn Day, a senior partner at Leigh Day, said: “BAT and Imperial make millions of pounds in profit each year and our clients believe much of this profit is down to the awful conditions that are present in their supply chains, which use impoverished families to farm the tobacco and pay them a pittance to do so.

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