In addition to the significant programs in place for its employees, Thai Union is working with a wide range of organizations to ensure that those working in the industry at large are also protected.
“While we are honored to have our efforts recognized, there is still work to be done. To genuinely eradicate slavery, the entire industry needs to work together on sustainable and evidence based solutions. That means businesses, governments, civil societies and even consumers must actively participate,” said Dr. Darian McBain, global sustainability director at Thai Union Group.
Thai Union has committed to significant initiatives to promote safe and legal labor:
Earlier this year, Thai Union launched SeaChange®, the company’s sustainability strategy, which includes its safe and legal labor roadmap, whereby workers in its supply chain have safe and freely chosen employment.
Thai Union is making significant efforts in traceability processes that are enabling the company to prove that its seafood is legally and safely produced, and that safe labor conditions are met throughout the supply chain. This is vital to building trust with all stakeholders.
In 2015, Thai Union revised its Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct and applied it throughout its global supply chain. The revised code covers the treatment of workers, stipulating protocols on employee welfare, benefits, wages, age, the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, and non-negotiable frameworks for health and safety. The company has held training events for its suppliers to ensure they understand the rationale and detail of the new code and will continue audits to ensure the Code of Conduct is being strictly adhered to, providing educational and development opportunities to suppliers so that they can share in the growth of the company. Suppliers’ who fail to work to meet the standards will be unable to remain a supplier to Thai Union.
Additionally, Thai Union has launched a number of policies designed to protect its workers’ human rights, and the company is subject to world recognized external verifications and audits by third-party certification bodies working to promote standard labor practices and eradicate forced labor from the industry.
Thai Union initiated a joint labor empowerment program with the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN) to formally educate workers on their basic rights, Thai labor law and social welfare regulations to empower them. In 2016, the program of engagement with MWRN expanded significantly and an Ethical Migrant Worker Recruitment Policy was announced.
Thai Union endorses a multi-stakeholder and collaborative approach to combating these practices and works with a number of organizations designed to combat issues of forced labor and unethical labor practices in the seafood industry. Among these are the Issara Institute, whose worker hotline is highly visible in five languages at Thai Union factories, port facilities, and increasingly in the supply chains, in addition to the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force and the Labor Rights Promotion Network, as well as other international and regional government institutions.
“Thai Union has zero tolerance for human rights violations. We will continue to build on our work to help lead the global seafood industry to stamp out slavery and human rights abuses wherever it exists, and create safe and legal labor for all,” McBain concluded.