UK’s Tesco keeps ban on Kakuzi avocados

UK’s Tesco keeps ban on Kakuzi avocados

Britain’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco is yet to reinstate avocado supplies by Kakuzi #ticker:KUKZ as it presses for compressive human rights reforms by the Murang’a-based agriculture firm.

The British retailer on October 11, 2020 temporarily dropped Kakuzi as its supplier of avocados pending investigations into alleged assault and sexual misconduct by some of its employees.

The ban stands nearly a year later, even as sources told the Business Daily that Tesco pressed for deeper reforms to safeguard the rights of workers and the communities living around the Kakuzi farms.

Through its Kent-based parent Camellia Plc, Kakuzi has been sued over the alleged human rights violations by its employees— which it has denied. The UK-listed company Camellia owns 50.7 percent of Kakuzi.

Law firm Leigh Day said that 79 Kenyans had launched a legal claim in the High Court in London against Camellia for alleged human rights abuses by security guards employed by Kakuzi, its Kenyan subsidiary. The allegations, dating from 2009 to January 2020, include rapes, attacks on local villagers, and a man being beaten to death, Leigh Day said.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Kakuzi this week pledged to accelerate human rights reforms to comply with international standards.

“We are taking any issues on human rights extremely seriously,” Wilson Odio, the Kakuzi assistant general manager in charge of corporate affairs, told the Business Daily in an interview on Wednesday.

“We are cognizant of the fact that going forward businesses will more and more have to observe human rights in the course of their operations. Kakuzi does not in any way entertain human rights abuse of any sort.”

Dr Odio cited some recently instituted measures to address the claims.

They include the employment of a manager in charge of human rights issues, an audit by a global firm on the impact of its operations on human rights, and the establishment of a dedicated operational-level grievance reporting mechanism that will provide multiple avenues through which our employees and the community can raise issues they would like the company to address.

Kakuzi has also appointed former Attorney-General Githu Muigai to chair the company’s newly created Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) that will provide technical advice to the board of directors.“They have already started working. Their work is to advise Kakuzi on human rights issues,” said Dr Odio.Camellia said earlier it would take remedial measures and undertake governance reforms, and encourage its subsidiaries to do the same with an aim of better […]

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