The recent reports of labour abuses are unacceptable, and we maintain our commitment to operating with integrity, transparency and upholding human rights. Our Business Ethics and Labour Code of Conduct explicitly prohibits forced labor and has strict rules governing labour practices throughout our supply chain. We also know that true leadership requires more than words – it takes action. To that end, we have made several changes in response to recent findings.
On 3 December 2015, Okeanos, a Thai Union subsidiary, terminated its relationship with a supplier who was suspected of being in violation of our code of conduct. Okeanos became aware that illicitly sourced product may have entered the supply chain through a supplier who was found to be trading with an unregistered pre-processor. All Thai preprocessing operations, including those of Thai Union, must be registered with the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA). In trading with an unregistered pre-processor, the supplier was in violation of Thai Union’s Code of Conduct and Okeanos immediately terminated its relationship with the supplier.
The owner of the pre-processor was arrested by the Royal Thai Police. Thai Union also alerted the TFFA of this incident, so that others in the industry could be made aware and as such, would be able to take appropriate action.
In addition, earlier this year, in April 2015, we undertook an audit of Suer Sakorn preprocessor, which we believed to be unannounced. We later learned the audit was flawed, and factory management was aware of our arrival and took measures to ensure the workers were responding positively to our inquiries regarding child, forced and illegal labor and pay. Subsequently, in May 2015, the local NGOs exposed these abuses, at which point Thai Union immediately terminated its business relationship with the preprocessor. We offered humanitarian aid to each of its workers – in conjunction with Project ISSARA and the Migrant Workers Rights Network – as well as employment in safe Thai Union-owned facilities.
These instances have shown that, despite regular audits, it is difficult to guarantee all external pre-processors are adhering to our Code of Conduct. For this reason, Thai Union has decided that by the end of 2015 it will cease working with all external preprocessors and will bring all shrimp processing operations in-house. This move will provide us with full oversight of all processing stages and will ensure that all workers, whether migrant or Thai, are in safe, legal employment and are treated fairly and with dignity.
As a major supplier of seafood products to consumer markets worldwide, Thai Union takes our responsibility for safeguarding those employed in the fishing industry seriously.
Mr. Thiraphong Chansiri, President and CEO of Thai Union commented, “Any illegal or unethical labour practices are unacceptable to Thai Union, and we are committed to take the necessary actions to ensure products in our supply chain are brought to market in a way that is consistent with our values to operate with integrity and with the utmost respect for human rights – nothing less will be tolerated. We have and will continue to take the necessary actions to be a trusted seafood leader for our customers, consumers and stakeholders around the world. This is yet another wake-up call not only to us, but to the entire industry. We must remain vigilant and work together to end these abuses now and in the future.”