Lidl's Code of Conduct says it aims to pay a living wage and that its suppliers should too. But according to Fairfood International, the discount chain is linked to exploitation of the most vulnerable workers in Thailand's shrimp processing industry.
The retail giant is keen to shed the negative image of a discount supermarket, adopting slogans like "high-quality, good value, sustainable", and spending millions on marketing campaigns like #LidlSurprises.
Now imagine what a surprise it would be to Lidl if we said we would hold the company to its word! Last year Greenpeace pressure convinced Lidl to make a detailed action plan to eliminate hazardous chemicals from its textile production. We need to get the word out and build that pressure again to eliminate poverty wages.
If workers are not paid a living wage, they cannot afford basic needs, such as food and medicines. Workers are essentially forced to work excessive overtime and send their children to work instead of school in order to compensate for their poverty wages.
But living wages can cause a virtuous spiral--improved access to education, healthcare and nutritious food, which enables workers to lift themselves, and even their communities, out of poverty.
The shrimp industry is plagued by exploitation--enough to make anyone despair. But we're part of a growing movement of workers, activists, and consumers who are standing up to the companies that profit from the suffering. Together with Fairfood, we can push Europe's largest food retailer to stop just paying lip service, and ensure that living wages are paid.
Caught in a trap – The story of poverty wages behind Asian shrimp sold in European supermarkets Fairfood International, April 9, 2015