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Report reveals poverty wages behind Asian shrimp sold in European supermarkets

In April 2015, a FairFood International report found that workers in the shrimp processing industry in Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam receive compensation below the living wage. According to the report, these "poverty wages violate the human right to just and favourable remuneration that ensures an existence worthy of human dignity for workers and their families."  FairFood International found that shrimp produced by these workers is exported to European supermarkets, including Lidl, Jumbo, Plus and Superunie (industry association supplying various supermarkets).

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to respond:

  • Jumbo response provided below
  • Plus & Superunie provided below
  • Aldi has not yet responded
  • Lidl had not further comment; it previously responded to FairFood's public action calling for a living wage (see here)
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All components of this story

24 June 2015

Lidl commits to fair wages for workers in its supply chain following Fairfood Intl. petition

Author: Fairfood International

Lidl has just announced in ‘The Grocer’ – the leading UK Magazine covering the whole Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector – that it is committed to ensuring fair wages for all workers in its supply chains...Campaign group Fairfood International launched the petition in April, claiming Lidl was “linked to abusive labour conditions in shrimp processing plants in Thailand”, where Burmese migrant workers were being paid unreasonably low wages and forced to work long hours...Nearly 92,000 consumers have signed up to the campaign to date, and Fairfood is now preparing for a final awareness push across its social media channels to hit its target of 100,000 signatures...

Read the full post here

30 April 2015

FairFood rejoinder to Lidl's non-response

Author: FairFood International

"No response from Lidl on poverty wages in shrimp industry", 30 Apr 2015

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre published an article on our shrimp report last week and invited all supermarkets mentioned in our report – and linked to the issue of poverty wages in the Asian shrimp industry – to respond. Lidl, one of the supermarkets in Europe that sells Asian shrimp, did not respond. The company is one of the largest supermarkets in Europe, which is why Fairfood is currently encouraging the company to use its bargaining power for something good: to pay living wages in their supply chains. We are disappointed that Lidl told Business & Human Rights Resource Centre that they “had no further comment; it previously responded to Fairfood’s public action calling for a living wage”...Lidl responded to Fairfood's [report] repeating what they said to us before: they agree that living wages are important, but that it is complicated to ensure that all workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. Fairfood believes that living on these poverty wages is much more complicated. Now it seems that instead of taking steps to address living wage, Lidl is choosing not to act at all.

Read the full post here

21 April 2015

Full report

"Caught in a trap: The story of poverty wages  behind  Asian shrimp sold in  European supermarket", Apr 2015

Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam and India are the biggest suppliersof tropical shrimp to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany...Fairfood has analysed the supply chains of tropical shrimp at Jumbo, PLUS, ALDI and Lidl and our findings show that most tropical shrimp sold at these retailers comes from Asia, most notably Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India. Supermarkets have tremendous power over food supply chains and have a responsibility to ensure that human rights are respected in their supply chains, as stated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Read the full post here

20 April 2015

Jumbo response

Author: Jumbo

For a long time social compliance and certifications have been a part of our purchasing/supplier conditions. Compliance of these conditions is implemented in our Supplier Information System. Every supplier and product is validated and controlled. If this is not the fact, action is taken. We work on improvement together with certification schemes, like GlobalGAP, MSC and ASC, to create a better chain of custody certification and to get more transparency and traceability. In our opinion living wage and social aspects should be an addition to these schemes. Jumbo cannot do this by itself. So we’d like to use this opportunity and reach out other partners and stakeholders in the food chain, especially the shrimp sector to work together with us. This to ensure living wage and better working conditions

Download the full document here

20 April 2015

Plus & Superunie response

Author: Plus

PLUS and Superunie highly value good labour conditions in our value chains...Together with our supplier, Superunie has visited the producer of prawns in Vietnam this March where we discussed the issue of wages. From the information we received during that visit, as well as from the audit reports we received, it seems that the employees’ wage level approaches or equals the living wage-level as published by Fairfood in its report. Superunie will discuss these findings with our supplier and Fairfood at the end of April. Together they will decide if additional steps are needed to support the payment of fair wages by the producers of prawns. The input of Fairfood in this is highly appreciated...