Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet, and the electric cab that won't take them anywhere (photo: Taxi Electric) - Credit: Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet, and the electric cab that won't take them anywhere (photo: Taxi Electric)
Taxi company refuses to drive Sinterklaas
A taxi firm in Amsterdam is refusing to drive people dressed as Sinterklaas or Zwarte Piet in protest of human rights violations widely believed to be perpetrated by the chocolate industry. Taxi Electric says that four of every ten chocolate bars are made by children, and one in ten is produced by slave labour. "We think there are bigger issues in the world, and one of them is modern slavery," company founder Ruud Zandvliet told the NL Times. "Why not start this campaign to create awareness of this problem? We can address it right now," he said. "There are hundreds of thousands of kids working on the chocolate plantations." The firm cited statistics suggesting that 460,000 modern slaves exist in the West African cocoa industry. Some 1.8 million young children also work in the industry there. "That is really something that can use attention and we should address it," Zandvliet stated emphatically. "We already decided to do this a few weeks ago, but we waited for the Sint's arrival," a company representative told the NL Times. She said they find the issue equally important to the colour of Zwarte Piet, but said that the chocolate industry's human rights violations should also be part of the winter season discussion in the Netherlands. The mythological figures give Dutch children large letters made of chocolate and chocolate coins every year. "I don't care if he's green or yellow or black or blue, i think everyone should [finally reach consensus], and we should start addressing real problems," Zandvliet stated. "We can have far more impact together if we focus on this problem." Not all Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet-costumed people will be refused. "If the Sinterklaas and Pieten in question have acquired their chocolate from a fair trade company, they may pay [their taxi fare] with chocolate coins, and thus it's practically free," Zandvliet told Het Parool. So far, Zandvliet said that the response has been generally very positive from customers and social media followers. Another representative at the firm said the phone had been ringing nonstop since news of the boycott was released.