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.
All our workers, including migrant workers, have access to independent hotlines run by local NGOs. Employees can anonymously and confidentially report grievances, which are relayed to Thai Union management for investigation and corrective action. We promote helplines operated by the Thai Ministry of Labor and National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Also, we will select a third-party service provider to offer accessible grievance and whistleblowing channels for employees and the general public, serving our global workforce and whistleblowers, and complementing existing internal grievance mechanisms.
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.
Technology is increasingly important to achieve sustainability. In 2017, Thai Union launched an innovative pilot project in Thailand to boost digital traceability and human rights. We are also trialing blockchain technology to input key data elements relating to catch and production from the farm to the processor. The information is secure, visible to all participating parties, and aids transparency and traceability, enhancing confidence. Additionally, Ethereum-based cryptocurrency, Fishcoin, is used to incentivize accurate reporting. Workers can be properly rewarded for correct practices, and accountable for issues. Fishcoin is tokenized data, providing both the mechanism and the reward for record-keeping.
When workers don’t know their rights, it is easy for unscrupulous operators to take advantage of them. We work with the Migrant Workers Rights Network and Labor Rights Promotion Network to train migrant workers in Thailand so they are aware of their human and labor rights.
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, in collaboration with Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN). 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 and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, 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 Asia.
Thai Union’s facilities are subject to the highest labor standards. In 2016, we worked with Migrant Workers Rights Network to conduct social dialog-based audit of our five key facilities to identify labor issues and to implement remediation action plans. 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 Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) as well as strict retailer codes.
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. In 2017, we introduced our Fishing Vessel Improvement Program and Vessel Code of Conduct (VCoC), reflecting the unique set of working conditions on fishing vessels that necessitate special consideration. The Vessel Code of Conduct is an extension of the Thai Union Business Labor and Ethics Code of Conduct. Thai Union’s existing and new suppliers are required to sign the Vessel Code of Conduct in order to conduct business with the company, ensuring the VCoC is applicable to all fishing vessels in the company’s supply chain.
Thai Union has eliminated recruitment fees for all workers in our factories and processing plants, effective for all future recruitment of workers both from within Thailand and overseas. The elimination of recruitment fees follows Thai Union’s continued development of an ethical migrant worker recruitment policy.
Since 2017, Thai Union has participated in the Bali Process Government and Business Forum, which allows governments to better engage the private sector to combat human trafficking, forced labor and related exploitation. Thai Union issued in 2018 a statement of support for the Bali Process Acknowledge, Act and Advance (AAA) Recommendations, specifically Pillar Two to call upon governments to strengthen, implement and enforce policies and legislation to encourage ethical recruitment practices, improve transparency across supply chains, and provide support and redress mechanisms for victims.
We are working to 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 protects 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.
Thai Union has made substantial, positive progress in 2018 on its commitment as outlined in the company’s landmark agreement with Greenpeace.
The event was hosted by MEP Ricardo Serrão Santos, an active Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries.
Thai Union committed to measures that will tackle illegal fishing and overfishing, as well as improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers.
The workshops brought together vessel owners, captains, crew supervisors, crew members and other staff of suppliers.
Thai Union completed its first industry collaborative third-party audit, conducted by global safety consulting and certification company UL.
CEOs and business leaders advise governments on how to prevent and combat human trafficking, modern slavery and related abuses.