Around 1,200 staff illegally employed in prawn peeling facilities that supplied Thai Union with shrimp have been given factory jobs and work permits, Thai Union said on Monday 18 January.
In December 2015, the company severed ties with a number of external pre-processing units after an investigation by the Associated Press claimed slaves were forced to work in prawn huts that had links to Thai Union.
The company said it had no idea this was going on and quickly distanced itself from the suppliers in order to gain full oversight and control of its supply chain.
Abuse of human rights
Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri announced the restructure as a “positive step” towards ridding the sector of “illegal labour practices”, in a statement on 10 December 2015.
“We are committed to leading improvements in the industry and we hope this reminds all operators that they must remain focused on promoting good labour practices – the abuse of human rights must not be tolerated,” he added.
Thousands of Thai and migrant workers were made redundant as a result of Thai Union’s decision to bring pre-processing in-house. Fortunately, the company was able to offer around 1,000 people jobs at its factories in the coastal province of Samut Sakhon.
Transparency and traceability
“We are extremely pleased to be able to offer safe and legal employment to former workers from the external pre-processing facilities,” said Rittirong Boonmechote, president of Thai Union’s global shrimp department.
“Ensuring transparency [and] traceability of our supply chain and upholding the rights of our employees is of paramount importance, and I am confident that by working in-house at our processing facilities, these workers’ rights will be guaranteed.”
The workers affected by the closer of the pre-processing facilities were paid the Thai national minimum wage of Baht300 ($8.26) every day during the time they were out of work.
All the new employees have now been fully registered for work permits with the Thai government and have been working with Thai Union since 6 January 2016.