• Home
  • Business
  • what can be done to remedy the injustice, who should do it, and why? case (coffee industry)

What can be done to remedy the injustice, who should do it, and why? case (coffee industry) Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Remedy to Coffee Industry Injustice

Coffee is one of the major staple among people all over the world. However, coffee industry has experienced one of the global social injustices. Many coffee farmers especially in Africa are underpaid for their product. The coffee famers seek better prices for their product just to enable them afford necessities like clothing, good food and better education for their children. The fact that coffee is unable to turn profits in the past years has made them refuse to pay their laborers forcing the laborers to work without pay. This has resulted into some kind of slavery where laborers are forced to work through intimidation, beatings and threats. Child slavery has also been witnessed in some countries like Ivory Coast. A report from International Labor Organization indicates that approximately 250 million children work in coffee farms , 120 million of whom work on a full time bases meaning they never attend school.

Slavery is a major problem to any citizen living in such regions and it weakens a country as a whole; because commodities may cost less expensive for other countries who are exporting which means less money for those countries they are exporting from. One of the effective remedy for this injustice happening in the coffee industry is to build a mutually-beneficial tie and relationships with coffee growers and coffee communities. The success of the farmers with whom exporter and local countries do business with is a critical feature of their own success. It is vital to take an integrated approach in order to build relationship with coffee communities (Kayser & Maria 21).

In Ruggie’s framework; protect, respect and remedy, protection entails «the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation, and adjudication». The States that produce coffee should gain more control over the coffee trade that its’ farmers produces. This will help to eliminate the brokers who take much of the money generated from coffee whereas the farmers get very little returns. The State must impose laws and regulations for exportation of their coffee that will favor the local famers and protect them against exploitation. The government must also protect the manual laborers in coffee plantations against forced labor. The workers should be paid well and a conducive working environment provided for them. Child slavery must also be eliminated. The above remedies will come only if the State adopts the Ruggie’s principle on protection to both protect coffee prices and its people working in coffee farms (Kayser & Maria 29).

Another principle by Ruggie that can be applied in the case is respect. According to Ruggie, respect entails, «the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to avoid infringing the rights of others and to address adverse impacts that occur». In regard to this principle, all the stakeholders in the coffee industry must be engaged in developing policies and structures starting from famers to consumers (Kayser & Maria 44).

Ethical theories form the foundations of ethical analysis since they are the viewpoints from which guidance can be obtained along a decision making procedure. In our case, the theory can focus on following one’s responsibilities and duties with an aim of reaching an ethically correct decision. There are some common goals that each theory aims to achieve to be successful. Like in our case such goals may include respect, justice and least harm. It does not look right or good that a person or a waiter serving coffee to customers gets more than ten times as much for that as the farmer who grows coffee. People should not just go on drinking their coffee without worrying about the poor farmers who spend their lives to produce such an important product that is so essential to people (Kayser & Maria 57).

Considering the poor prices paid to coffee farmers which are between 30p and 59p for any pound of coffee they sell, the big dissatisfaction is how much then does a coffee picker get. Instead of helping these poor farmers, the big companies are actually hijacking the concept of economic justice and blocking the farmers who grow coffee from getting justice. The big companies should be in the frontline to help these farmers get fair prices for their coffee product. Taking into account the principle of least harm, «a person should choose to do the least harm possible and to do harm to the fewest people», the slavery and brutality witnessed in the coffee industry can be eliminated (Kayser & Maria 63).

People are supposed to abide to their obligation and responsibilities when analyzing the case in the coffee industry. This means that stakeholders such as the government and the coffee exporting companies will have to follow their obligations to the coffee farmers since upholding their responsibility and duties is what is regarded as ethically right. The coffee industry can follow this theory in order to make decisions that will favor each stakeholder involved. People should be able to predict the outcomes or consequences that result from their actions. When the famers and coffee growers are not paid well, then their farming maybe undermined or closes entirely. The concerned bodies like the government and coffee industries must consider these when they are dealing with the famers. The failure to pay farmers well may have serious consequences to the coffee industry and the entire economy. The coffee companies must act in a way that will benefit both the famer and the company through the most just and fairest means that is available. They should not be self-centered by forgetting their responsibility to the farmers which is to pay them fair prices as they are getting from the coffee they sell to consumers (Kayser & Maria 72).

One of the major limitations of this approach is that people are obligated to frequently behave or act so that the highest person benefits despite the danger that is associated with the act. The coffee companies will block the poor famers from accessing justice so that they will be able to continue exploiting them without considering the problems they are facing when growing coffee. They are just focused in keeping their profits high. This approach is solely concerned with certain people achieving maximum benefits. According to this ethical theory, the rights of an individual may be infringed upon so that the greater population can benefit. The coffee companies may be denied some of their preferences as far as coffee prices are concerned so that the big population of coffee famers may benefit. In ethical theories, a society rights are protected and given first priority. Some individuals who have resources and power can at times bestow rights on other people which have been the case in the coffee farms. The communities must decide what their goals and ethical priorities are in order to solve this issue (Kayser & Maria 78).

Remedy; Both the government and the business have the responsibility to provide more access by people affected to efficient and effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial. The fair trade practice is one of the ways to do this. Fair trade market based approach can help to promote better trading environments and sustainability for coffee farmers and produces in the third world or the developing countries. This is a gradual process that may take some years to materialize. The practice may focus more on improving labor and environmental standards. Fair trade practice also means educating workers and famers to improve their skills, products and consequently profit- this can be done through international policy reform and practical interventions. Of all the other things, coffee farmers receive a higher price for their coffee than the standard market price and also work in better environments that forbid the use of exploitative labor practices (Kayser & Maria 80).

The standard of coffee that is being exported and imported must also be upheld. Some producers of coffee are branding it by mixing different varieties. This has made the coffee exported from a given country to be «impure» once it reaches the country that it is being imported or consumed. The standard must therefore be upheld through ethical certification. Ethically certified coffee is more popular since more consumers recognize that this standard has observed fair trade principles throughout the production of such kind of coffee. Companies are also recognizing the importance and value of certification. Most companies have incorporated programs to improve their sustainable sourcing behavior. Both ethical certification schemes and independent practices can be applied. This is a reasonable solution provided they are transparent in providing an independent audit of their work and make a planned responsibility to ethical sourcing across their whole coffee range (Kayser & Maria 82).

Global civil society organizations can also come forward and implement certain programs which will help to improve conditions and livelihoods of coffee famers and the entire farming communities. Such kind of programs includes:

  • Developing the organization of cooperatives so that small small-scale farmers can compete with bigger landholders;

  • Programs to improve and enable farmers’ access to markets where they can be able to sell their coffee;

  • Providing education about child labor and the importance of having a balance between school and work; and

  • Supporting the coffee communities to work with ethical certification schemes.

Cooperatives are a good avenue where coffee farmers can join and involve all the involved stakeholders into a collective bargaining. This is a process that will take them a short period of time since collective bargaining will involve one on one discussion with the other parties. Cooperatives can have a positive impact on the social developments through fair trade markets because of their power to conduct solidarity work and education. Cooperatives carry out educational programs to their members informing them on the benefits of joining and coming together as a cooperative society. This instills a sense of support in their members. Bit by bit, cooperatives can make a tangible change in many famers live. These poor famers’ children can be able to access education and good medical care where they could not have existed before. Cooperatives can also rally for good infrastructure which will also help achieve the progress against poverty and forced labor force (Kayser & Maria 91).

The above advancements can only be made only when the people in consumer countries understand and realize that they can change the situation by choosing the way they spend their money. Paying good and fair prices for coffee is one way in which consumer countries can help to alleviate these problems in developing countries. Engaging in fair trade can eliminate the need for aid in developing countries who are the main coffee producers. One of the environmentally and socially responsible ways to conduct coffee trade between developing and developed countries is through certified coffee. This is a major trade step that can change the global economy demonstrating that the global community can come and work together to cater for everyone’s needs (Kayser & Maria 112).

The government should form bodies and committees that regulates and prevents any intermediaries or brokers and private companies from exploiting famers where they pay them artificially low prices. This is something of much importance to coffee famers and other personals involved in coffee farms and production since the incomes in the entire coffee growing areas will be raised. Coffee farmers must sell their products to fair trade markets if they are to get fair prices for the coffee they sell. This money will enable them live in a better living standard where they can buy good clothing and adapt to new farming technics. Farmer’s union work on their behalf by offering them with forums where they can make themselves heard.

Work Cited:

Kayser, Olivier, and Maria V. Budinich. Scaling Up Business Solutions to Social Problems: A Practical Guide for Social and Corporate Entrepreneurs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Print.