A coffee producer with an international sustainability seal is accused of slave-like labor at MG

An inspection by the ministry’s Gmóvel (Special Mobile Inspection Team) in Minas Gerais during the last coffee harvest last July rescued seven workers, three women and four men, in slavery-like conditions.

Coffee packets draw attention to their beauty on sites where they are sold on the Internet. Product names include words like “gourmet,” “premium,” and “specialty.” The price is much higher than the brands found in any supermarket, reaching 112 rubles per 1 kilogram. Behind all this, however, labor similar to slavery, the TKA (Ministry of Labor and Employment) points out.

An inspection by the ministry’s Gmóvel (Special Mobile Inspection Team) in July of last year rescued seven workers in the last coffee harvest in Minas Gerais, three women and four men, in slavery-like conditions on property belonging to the company Fazendas Klem. Coffee import and export in Manhumirim, Zona da Mata, Minas Gerais.

The Report reached out to Fazendas Clem by phone and received a letter asking questions about the property’s MTE inspection. The message was sent at 15:59 on Monday (13), but there was no response as of 12:00 this Tuesday.

During a hearing at the Ministry of Labor and Employment in the Manhuachu District Office, after rescuing the workers, Cesar Viana Klem, the owner of Fazendas Klem, who introduced himself on social media as a “terrible Christian”, made all the payments. thanks to the rescued employees who returned to Bahia.

In the publication of 7, however, commenting on the arrest of FNL (Frente Nacional de Lutas Campo e Cidades) leader José Rainha in Pontal do Paranapanema, the owner of Fazendas Klem wrote the following text: our properties have been “invaded” by “presumptive workers” who have created a history of “slave-like labor” that is driving us into bankruptcy. If nothing is done to help the farmer, this left will destroy Brazilian agribusiness!!!!!!!

Fazendas Clem was part of a select group of coffee producers in Brazil that carry the Rainforest Alliance seal, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) operating worldwide that attests to the sustainability of agricultural producers.

The organization’s website states that its seal “signifies that a product (or a specific ingredient) was produced by farmers, foresters and/or companies working together to create a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.”


Rainforest Alliance informed that Fazendas Klein company no longer has certification.

Testimonies given to GMóvel inspectors by seven male and female workers, accessed by Folha de S.Paulo, show the precarious situation they endured at the property. All are from Caetanos, located in the center-south region of Bahia. The group arrived in Manhumirim at dawn on June 20, 2022, after disembarking in Raleza, a district in the neighboring city of Manhuachu.

As they reported, the farm car picked them up in the Realeza district of the neighboring city of Manhuachu, 774 kilometers away from Caetanos. In their testimony, the workers claimed that the decision to travel to Manhumirim was made after a video circulated among the municipality’s rural workers showed a farm with many coffee trees to be harvested.

Property will be where they are headed. However, when they arrived there, they noticed that the coffee was not quite ready to harvest. One village worker said he arranged to go to the farm with a man who identified himself as Gimailson “at the behest of Klem Farms,” ​​he told inspectors. One of the questions asked in the letter sent to Fazendas Clem was about the role of the man mentioned by the workers on the property.


Another surviving farmer said that the farm shown was in a flat area, unlike their destination, which was on steep terrain. The GMóvel inspectors’ report says, based on testimony and an inspection of the property, a toilet with no flush, sewage flowing in the open near the house where they were installed, a lack of tools, protective materials and shelter. for food while they were on the farm.

“Workers lived in unsafe housing on the farm itself, with cracked doors, incompletely lined and vulnerable windows, unsanitary conditions, no toilet paper and drying material,” the affidavit-based inspection concluded. the checks they made on the farm.

“The house was completely dirty. Bed linen was not provided, there was no place to receive food, there was no laundry room to wash clothes and personal belongings. The food prepared by the workers was held in such accommodations that lacked maintenance, cleanliness, hygiene and safety conditions,” the report also states.

The inspectors also found out that the workers did not undergo an admission medical examination, and that the farmers were not paid their wages between June 21 and July 6, the day the inspection began.


Mauricio Krepski, Gmóvel’s national coordinator at the Ministry of Labor and Employment, said that according to the group’s operating rules, it is not allowed to reveal how the complaint against Klem Farms reached the ministry. “The group operates on the basis of announcements, as well as inspections carried out without any prior announcement,” he says.

“The plight of the workers was completely ignored,” says the group’s national coordinator. Based on the conditions in which the seven male and female workers were found, Klem Farms was fined BRL 13,000 for each rescued farmer.

According to Krepski, there were a total of 15 violation notices, each of which imposed a fine from 400 to 20,000 rials.


A similar situation for farmers in Manhumirim happened again this year in Rio Grande do Sul. Workers in slave-like conditions at wineries across the state were also rescued.


Leonardo Augusto, Belo Horizonte, MG

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