Labor Unions Representing Nearly 5 Million People Urge Thai Union Group to Prevent Human Rights Abuses
by Perry Wheeler
October 15, 2015
Groups stand in solidarity with Greenpeace campaign to clean up seafood supply chains .
Washington, DC — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), representing a combined 4.7 million workers, today issued a joint statement to Chicken of the Sea and its owner Thai Union Group urging the canned tuna companies to immediately reform their social and environmental practices. Thai Union, the largest canned tuna company in the world, has been implicated in numerous human rights abuses and even forced labor at sea. Last week, Greenpeace wrote to Thai Union’s investors and major buyers to inform them of the numerous environmental and labor issues that exist in its supply chains, as part of the launch of a new global campaign.
“Our partnership with Greenpeace on this groundbreaking initiative to press for a sustainable tuna fishing industry demonstrates that the labor and environmental movements share a common interest in seeing our planet and its inhabitants treated with dignity and respect,” said Marc Perrone, President of the 1.3 million member UFCW. “We join with Greenpeace and other allies calling on Thai Union to end destructive fishing while respecting the labor and human rights of all those employed within its supply chain, and we shall stand with Greenpeace and all those workers affected until the company’s practices have been rectified.”
In the statement, the unions urged Thai Union and Chicken of the Sea to:
- Work to clean up their supply chains.
- Become fully transparent.
- Ensure workers throughout their businesses the freedom of association and the right to join unions.
- Require improved fishing practices.
- Stop relying on overfishing and exploited labor to make short term profits.
“It’s increasingly clear that the global tuna industry is out of control, jeopardizing workers, harming marine life and emptying our oceans of fish,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. “Companies like Chicken of the Sea and its owner Thai Union have the power to change the fishing industry and save lives by insisting on sustainable and socially responsible tuna.”
Thai Union has been connected to human rights abuses, forced labor and destructive fishing methods in recent investigations and media reports from the New York Times and Associated Press. The U.S. State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report maintained Thailand at the bottom-ranked tier 3 level and flagged the Thai fishing industry as a problem area. The European Union has also issued warning yellow cards to Thailand and Taiwan — whose vessels supply Thai Union brands around the world — for their failure to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. As the largest seafood company in Thailand and largest canned tuna company in the world, Thai Union has a critical role to play in cleaning up the industry and avoiding harmful sanctions.
To read the entire statement sent to Thai Union and Chicken of the Sea, click here: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/
Contact: Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Media Officer, P: 301-675-8766