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News 553 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Dutch firm under investigation for exploiting Argentine workers

Rotterdam based privately-held trading and agribusiness company Nidera is under investigation in Argentina for using 'slavery-like' conditions on a maize plantation in Argentina.

Labour ministry inspectors from the Argentine national government and the Buenos Aires provincial government said they found 199 farm workers in conditions close to slavery during raids carried out at the end of December and the beginning of January on estates in the area of San Pedro, about 100 kilometres west of the national capital.
 
The inspectors said 130 of the labourers, including some 30 children and adolescents, were producing for the Dutch-based multinational Nidera, and 69 were producing for the Argentine company Southern Seeds Production SA; the workers appear to have been subcontracted through temporary agencies.
 
Workers kept isolated
The workers 'didn't know where they were, were unable to leave, had no electricity or water and their cash-in-hand wages were heavily discounted for the supplies sold by the company at extortionate prices,' according to local media reports.
 
Nidera on its website "categorically denies" all the accusations that its "seed division in Argentina had employed temporary workers who were unregistered and exploited by the company."
 
The 19 minors found working on the plantation were all aged 16 to 18 and had permission from their parents, Nidera's head of legal affairs Job Rietkerk told the paper.
 
Tax evasion
According to Argentine newspaper reports, the company is also under investigation for tax evasion totalling 260 million Argentine pesos (€49m).
 
Nidera's Argentine subsidiary is the country's leading seed supplier and one of the largest exporters of grains and vegetable oils.
 
In 1996 it was the first Argentine company to obtain permission to market genetically modified soy.
 
 

Dick Ziggers

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