BRAZIL – Heineken has moved swiftly to assure the public that it does not support nor condone any acts of slave labour after its brewing facility was among those Brazil’s government accused of subjecting workers to conditions similar to slavery.  

In a statement, Heineken has however denied these allegations noting that the inclusion of its brewery Cervejarias Kaiser in the so-called “dirty list” (Lista Suja) was a “procedural error” which it was currently working to resolve “as soon as possible.” 

Heineken found itself on the list after its logistics contractor, Transportadora Sider, responsible for delivering beer on behalf of the company in the state of Sao Paulo at the time was indicted for subjecting long working hours. 

According to the Brazilian government, the labour inspectors discovered that Sider’s drivers were working illegally long hours, often up to 18 hours a day, without any paid leave.  

Additionally, Sider had promised lodging for its workers but failed to deliver, resulting in many having to sleep in their trucks. 

While maintaining its innocence, Heineken further emphasized that they were unaware of the labour conditions at Sider, a company they have since distanced themselves from. 

“We were not aware of the labour conditions at Sider. Once we were made aware, we acted immediately, including terminating our contract with Sider,” Heineken said. 

Additionally, Heineken outlined steps it has taken to prevent future listings, including a R$20 million (US$3.9 million) investment to create facilities including common areas, dressing rooms, showers, and a restaurant at all breweries for truckers to use while waiting for shipments. 

In Brazilian law, slavery encompasses forced labour, debt bondage, degrading working conditions, and excessively long hours that pose health risks.  

Brazil publishes the Lista Suja every six months, with newly included companies remaining on the list for two years unless no new offenses are committed. 

Companies on this list face restrictions, including ineligibility for federal government contracts and state loans.  

With its efforts to clear the Kaiser’s name, Heineken aims to persuade the Brazilian government to remove it from the list, enabling the company to participate in government contracts and access loans.