Thai Union at Trust Women Conference 2016

Thai Union participated in the annual Trust Women Conference on 30 November 2016, which discussed real solutions to empower women to fight slavery worldwide.

The company was represented by Darian McBain Ph.D, the global director of sustainable development. McBain joined the panel to discuss cleaning the supply chains from forced labor, and she presented the Fishers Fund as an Action for the Trust Women Conference to support.

To coincide with McBain’s appearance at the Trust Women Conference 2016, Thai Union today launched its new SeaChange® website, the company’s sustainability strategy.

Fishers Fund

McBain presented an Action at Trust Women Conference 2016 with Australian Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking Issues Andrew Goledzinowski and media broadcaster Femi Oke, to establish a Fishers Fund that will put cash in the hands of workers rescued from slavery. Working closely with local NGOs in Thailand already involved in these programs such as the Issara Institute, Migrant Workers Rights Network, Stella Maris and LPN, this will give survivors the funds to make their own choices to build a brighter future for themselves and their families, and give them back their human rights and their dignity by providing freedom of choice. McBain asked conference attendees to lend their skills, expertise and experience to establish the Fishers Fund.

Modern slavery is endemic across many industries and sectors, and it touches all consumers. While most of the global seafood industry applies and enforces decent working and living conditions for workers and fishers, activities at sea are difficult to regulate as they are reclusive and hard to monitor. Looking for employment, many migrant workers fall victim to unscrupulous recruitment brokers and find themselves in irrecoverable debt, without documentation, working in unbearable conditions, and no access to the outside world. Even when rescued, victims of trafficking often find themselves broke, without contacts, employment and prospects in a foreign country.

“[The Fishers Fund is a] much needed compensation or support fund to provide redress and contribute to rebuilding the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of migrant and national workers associated with the Thai fishing industry, whom for decades have faced and indeed still do face severe abuse too often in situations of modern slavery, forced labor and human trafficking,” said Andy Hall, international affairs adviser for the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN). “This is a bold and impressive move or step forward by Thai Union Group, and reflects what MWRN perceive to be a real commitment by the company, one of the largest seafood companies in the world, to ensure a better and more sustainable future for the Thai seafood industry and its crucially important workforce, often consisting of migrant workers from Myanmar and Cambodia who continue to face high risks of the most serious kinds abuse.”

Forced labor in the Thai seafood industry

During a Trust Women Conference panel on forced labor in supply chains, McBain discussed the issue of slavery in the Thai seafood sector, and Thai Union’s work to achieve safe and legal labor in the company’s own supply chain. The panel also included Nick Grono, President and CEO of the Freedom Fund; Kevin Hyland, the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner; and speakers from Primark and Hilton.

“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 McBain.

To watch McBain’s presenting the Fishers Fund Action at Trust Women Conference 2016: http://www.trustwomenconf.com/videos/i/?id=b9f83ec1-5adb-4a80-928d-523b4dd8eb39&confYear=2016.

For more information on Thai Union’s initiatives to achieve safe and legal labor in the seafood supply chain, visit the new SeaChange® website by Thai Union: http://www.thaiunion-sustainability.com/.