Update: Walmart has now joined Tesco and signed up to Project Issara in line with our asks. Pressure is increasing on Costco and Carrefour to commit to take action to end modern slavery in the Thai fishing industry.
“They kept me chained up, they didn’t care about me or give me any food...They sold us like animals, but we are not animals - we are human beings.”
This heart-wrenching quote is from a man sold from ship to ship in Thailand, caught in the trap of slavery and forced to work on a boat that supplies feed to the prawns we buy at the grocery store.
The three largest grocers in the world -- Walmart, Carrefour, and Costco -- were named specifically in a new investigation by the Guardian for selling prawns and shrimp whose production relies upon slave labor. One week later, those companies are still refusing to take two simple steps to rout out slavery from their supply chains -- and that’s where we come in.
Human rights activists are demanding Walmart, Carrefour and Costco join Project Issara, a Thai-based initiative to end modern slavery, as well as institute a zero tolerance policy on slavery based on conditions on the ground. Before the spotlight of the Guardian expose fades, let’s raise our voices to speak out against slavery in the prawn industry.
Sign the petition to tell Costco, Walmart and Carrefour to take concrete actions to end slavery in their supply chains.
The world’s largest prawn and shrimp farmer, Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, is the prime supply offender, buying from suppliers that work directly or indirectly with slave-manned fishing boats. Worse still, the problem isn’t limited to CP Foods. Indeed, human rights advocates have been raising alarms about conditions in the Thai seafood industry for years.
Project Issara was founded by Anti-Slavery International to eliminate slavery within export-oriented industries in Thailand. The project seeks to push brands that may be buying slavery-made products to use their brand power to eliminate slavery within global supply chains.
Testimony from escapees reveals the gravity of this exploitation. One trafficking victim said he had seen as many as 20 fellow slaves killed in front of him. “If you buy prawns or shrimp from Thailand, you will be buying the product of slave labor,” said Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International.
We have targeted Walmart in the past over its involvement in Thai slavery in fishing. It cut ties with the supplier in question -- but clearly no policies were in place to prevent this from happening again. This is why signing up to Project Issara and devising policies to prevent this from happening again are essential if meaningful change is ever going to be made.
Walmart customers exist all around the world -- it is a global company that owns Woolco stores in Canada, Walmex in Mexico, Bompreço in Brazil and Asda in the UK. Costco is planning a big expansion into Australia and Carrefour has stores in 34 countries. The companies are hoping their customers across the globe won't make the connection between CP Foods and the prawns we buy at the grocery store. Let's stand up together and show them how wrong they are.
Tell Costco, Carrefour and Walmart to ensure slavery-free prawns in their freezer aisles.
"Revealed: Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK," The Guardian, June 10, 2014.