Heineken efforts, 2001-2008 - still more work needed

April 09
Heineken releases CAS Audit (word 633kb), and Prof Lubek responds critiquing Heineken's practices with beer sellers.
Read Lubek's response (rft 28kb) Read also SOMO (NL)'s (Centre for research on Multinational Corporations) produces Heineken - overview of controversial Business Practices in 2008 , a research overview to Heineken shareholders pdf (114.4 kb) and a report (492kb) stating that Heineken as well as other international brewers are still behaving badly towards women beer sellers in Cambodia.

In 2008, Heineken as part of the goals of BSIC (Nov., 2006) , supported health education for beer sellers. By April, 2008, our research showed that 74% of Heineken sellers reported receiving education but unfortunately only 9% of these sellers received education before or on the first day of starting work; and 24% received it after 6 months or not at all. Meanwhile in 2007-8, 75% of all beer sellers reported feeling pressure to drink beer with customers, 96% reported actually drinking with customers, 34% reported being forced to trade sex for money (18% of these in the workplace itself), 50% reported seeing other beersellers physically hurt at work and 72% currently felt at risk from HIV/AIDS. While supporting health education is an important step forward, in order to maximise the impact of education in reducing workplace risks to these young women it is imperative that education take place before work starts, and that the workplace conditions also be changed.

Moreover, despite Heineken's international HIV policy of providing free HAART to male brewery workers and their spouses in Africa, the 2008 shareholder's report suggests that the Cambodian government's program should take responsibility for providing free HAART for HIV+ beer sellers in Cambodia. However, the government's program currently imposes constraints on eligibility and the necessity to live close to the HAART distribution centre - poor public transport prevents many Cambodian beer sellers from accessing this much needed medication. The Heineken African Model where HAART is administered at the workplace would provide a more socially responsible way of supporting the health care needs of the Heineken beer sellers.

In 25 Oct 2006 Beer Selling Industry Cambodia (BSIC) - which includes Heineken - publish a Code of Conduct for Beer Promoters (BPS) setting industry standards for health, safety and working conditions Read (pdf 33kb) . Having a Code of Conduct is an important step forward, but must go beyond public relations to implementation in order to help the women. Unfortunately, the Code does not yet address two major causes of health and safety risks to women beer sellers: i) provision of a fair wage of at least $110 monthly and ii) provision of free highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).

On 29 Sept 06 SiRCHESI deliver a presentation 'Combining Alcohol and HIV/AIDS risks in Cambodia' at Heineken headquarters in Amsterdam. presentation exe file (3,265kb)

On 25 Sept 06 The Lancet publishes a response by van Merode et al to a report which states Heineken are providing free HAART to it's (predominately male) workers in Africa. Read the introduction and initial report published in The Lancet on 5th Aug 06 The Business of HIV/AIDS. The Lancet, Vol 368, p. 423. (pdf 65kb) and the first report detailing HAART in Africa van der Borght et al. (2006). HAART for the HIV-infected employees of large companies in Africa. The Lancet, vol 368, p.547-550. (76kb) As yet Heineken have not extended this policy to beer-sellers in Cambodia; read Van Merode's response van Merode et al. (2006). Antiretrovirals for employees of large companies in Cambodia. The Lancet, vol 368, p. 1065. (36kb)

On 13th Sept 2006 SiRCHESI send a letter to CEOs of three major European brewers (INBEV, Heineken and Carlsberg) inviting them to meet to discuss proactive steps. Read letter (rtf 13kb).

In Aug 2004 a representative from Heineken (which owns approx 42% of Tiger's parent company Asia Pacific Breweries) at a conference on HIV/AIDS in Siem Reap, reported that since Dec., 2003, Tiger beer is providing free anti-retroviral therapy for male brewery workers at its Cambodian subsidiary- but not yet to it's beer sellers in Cambodia.

On 8 July 2004 a Bloomberg article quotes Stefaan van der Borght, corporate medical adviser at Amsterdam-based Heineken as saying in an interview "People dying of HIV and AIDS are the same people consuming our product. If 10 percent of your customer base is eroding I think in the long-term you have an economic problem." Read the Bloomberg article

In March 2004 Heineken and Asia Pacific Breweries announced that a Safe Selling Beer Program was being initiated in Cambodia with participation of CARE. However, in other areas of renumeration and provision of antiretroviral therapy, Heineken is still recalcitrant (read Lubek's published article in POWS, 2005, pdf 83kb) or for an earlier uncensored version see Just dying for a ...(rtf 53kb) despite Heineken's own HIV/AIDS policy (read their policy in rtf or pdf) and have been recently criticized in the Dutch press (see press report Promotiemeisjes / Biertje? Promotion girls/beer? (html 10kb)