On Friday 18th October, Andy, Katy and Beth from STOP THE TRAFFIK accompanied by four students from Oasis Academy Mayfield delivered over 6000 postcards to Mondelēz UK office in Uxbridge.
The culmination of over a year’s campaigning this was an opportunity for some grassroots activists to meet face to face with top level representatives from the company we’ve been focusing on.
Tia, Lara, Lewis and Sean are year 11 students from Oasis Academy Mayfield where they have been selected for the role of Global Ambassadors! They have been leading on campaigning activity and were looking forward to asking Mondelēz some direct questions about their plans. This was a seminal moment at STOP THE TRAFFIK, as it was the first time we’ve taken campaign supporters to meet a chocolate company. These four students boldly took on the role of representing the voices of everyone who has signed a postcard and engaged in the campaign.
We gathered at London Waterloo, laden with suitcases fit to bursting with thousands of Traffik-Free Toblerone postcards. After a (Fairtrade) hot chocolate we set off on the journey discussing their thoughts and questions on the campaign.
We were welcomed at the Mondelēz offices by key figures from their Communications team, Sara Sizer, Director of Corporate Affairs for Mondelēz Europe and Nicola Gilchrist, Director Corporate Affairs Central Europe whose role includes overseeing the work on child labour.
It was a triumphant moment when we emptied the thousands of postcards in their reception area for a photo-shoot. 100 or 200 postcards would simply not have had the same impact. The sheer number of signed postcards spoke volumes about just how many people care about this issue.
The students led the meeting and asked their questions about why the issue of child trafficking in the cocoa supply chain has been known about for so long but so little action has taken place. They asked about timelines and accountability and they asked if Mondelēz thought their consumers cared.
Sara and Nicola were eloquent and articulate in describing the progress Mondelēz have made to date, their passion for taking action on this issue and their commitment to finding a real solution to the problem. Their willingness to welcome us into their office and speak openly about the issue also speaks well in their favour.
However, the sticking points have not been unstuck. There is not going to be a commitment to make Toblerone or the rest of their chocolate range certified. We believe this is a key first step in tackling child trafficking due to the third party, independent monitoring and verification this provides. However, they are committed to finding a solution through their cocoa life programme.
Their Cocoa Life programme includes lots of plans most recently their newly published Child Labour Guidance Document. However, there are no targets or timelines included to provide accountability about when this activity will be delivered and what the scale of it will be. There are also no details of who might provide an independent, third-party verification of their progress and impact.
It is clear that companies are listening. Without the distribution of over 70,000 postcards and letters in the UK, Australia and other countries as well as over 600 supporters on social media, would this conversation have even taken place?
It is vital we maintain a clear campaign voice to industry.
During a post-meeting debrief with the students Lara summed up their thoughts on the meeting, “this isn’t good enough at all, they need to take more of a lead. They are the biggest chocolate company in the world and they could make a big difference!”
Our campaign continues.
Footage of the trip is coming soon!