While we have significant programs in place for our own employees, we are also partnering with specialist organizations and NGOs to ensure that those working in the wider industry are protected.
Globally, almost none of the fish we use is caught by Thai Union-owned vessels but we are using our market position to improve labor conditions throughout the seafood supply chain. We know that full traceability of all our seafood products, from catch to consumption, will help accurately identify gaps in safe and legal labor and, critically, give workers a voice.
We are committed to this work and to helping the industry deliver against the United Nations’ goal to provide decent work and economic growth for communities and individuals throughout the world.
Traceability is the backbone of seafood sustainability.
With full digital traceability we will trace each of our products back to its source – from the vessel that caught it or the pond that produced it. This information will allow us to monitor the labor conditions onboard vessels and from ponds we purchase from.
We will collect real-time data about working conditions at sea and on board vessels that land in in Thailand. The project will look at both large and small scale vessels working in different fisheries in Thailand, and throughout South East Asia. The data will improve the accuracy and efficiency of digital records, work with government regulators and improve compliance with fair labor policies. If successful we will investigate scalable models to replicate Fishbone across our supply chain.
Through our partnership with the Issara Institute, workers in our factories and ports in Thailand will have access to an independent telephone helpline in five languages that will allow them to report abuses of human or employment rights. A social media app, developed by the Issara Institute and tested with Thai Union workers, will be available to workers on land or sea.
When workers don’t know their rights, it is easy for unscrupulous operators to take advantage of them. We are working with the Migrant Workers Rights Network and Labor Rights Promotion Network to train migrant workers in Thailand so that they are all aware of their human and employment rights. We are also exploring scalable and sustainable models to roll this initiative out globally.
We have set up worker-elected welfare committees in our factories in Thailand to establish open and shared dialog between the workforce and Thai Union management. Through this process, workers are able to raise concerns immediately and to ensure that our future policies are sensitive to the specific needs of migrant and non-migrant workers alike. We are committed to giving our workers a voice and have a policy of freedom of association in all of our operations throughout the world.
We will continue to work with the Seafood Task Force (previously called the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force) to ensure that the Thai seafood supply chain is free from abuses of human and labor rights. The Task Force is an international, industry alliance which aims to eradicate illegal and forced labor, through accountability, verification and transparency.
We will continue to work with the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) Crab Council’s Task Force to address potential labor issues as well as broader sustainability issues in crab supply chains across the region.
While we are focusing on what we can do to improve labor standards across the industry, we are also focusing on our own facilities to ensure we uphold the highest employment standards. Working with the Migrant Workers Rights Network, we have audited all our facilities in Thailand using social dialog to ensure we identify any issues that may require improvement or resolution. Our facilities are audited to a range of international social standards, including the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) base code, and the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX), as well as strict retailer codes. By 2017, all of our production facilities globally will have been audited to the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) standard.
In 2015, we tightened up and relaunched our Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct which stipulates, among other things, that workers must be legal and safe. We insist that all of our contracted suppliers – from boat operators to label printers – sign up to this code and adhere to its principles at all times to prevent illegal labor and offer training to support supplier development.
While Thai Union’s own Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct will ensure our suppliers comply with our strict principles, we want to drive change across the wider seafood industry. So we are working with the Seafood Task Force to develop an auditable code of conduct that will clearly lay out how workers should be treated throughout the entire seafood industry. The code will be trialed in Thailand initially and then rolled out to the industry across Southeast Asia.
Human trafficking is often perpetrated through rogue brokers. Our ethical migrant worker recruitment policy, introduced in 2016, strictly regulates the use of employment brokers in Thailand and will be progressively rolled out to our global operations.
We will eliminate the risk of unscrupulous recruitment agents charging fees to people looking for work in our factories and processing plants in our operations globally. This will protect local and migrant workers from the risk of extortion by unlicensed labor agents and brokers. Thai Union has already implemented this in Thailand and has found that in addition to providing protection to workers, it is helping us map out our recruitment processes more effectively.
We have brought the pre-processing of shrimp in-house, contracting workers directly so we can guarantee safe and legal employment.
Our Business Ethics and Code of Conduct has been presented to all our suppliers and seeks to guarantee that all our suppliers adhere to Thai Union’s own standards.
Our Vessel Code of Conduct reflects the unique set of working conditions on fishing vessels that necessitate special consideration.
We have conducted an external audit of our full shrimp feed supply chain to verify the legal status of workers on vessels.
We have a helpline that allows workers to report any employment issues they might experience of witness and provides immediate guidance and advice.
We provide practical support, medical help and legal aid to victims of human trafficking in Thailand.