Nestlé moves to tackle supply chain slavery

posted by Anna Scott
30 November 2015

Nestlé has published a plan to tackle the forced labour that has been uncovered in its seafood supply chain in Thailand.

A report undertaken by NGO Verité found evidence of forced and child labour and trafficking among sea-based and land-based workers employed at six production sites in Thailand.

Workers had been subject to deceptive recruitment practices in which they were not provided with adequate information about the terms of their work. They were also transported from their home countries to Thailand in “inhumane conditions, charged excessive fees leading to debt bondage in some cases, exposed to exploitative and hazardous working conditions, and, at the time of assessment, were living under sub-par to degrading conditions”, the report read.

Evidence was also found of wages being withheld and an absence of any grievance mechanisms for sea-based workers at the sites, which were three shrimp farms, two ports and one fishing boat.

"As we’ve said consistently, forced labour and human rights abuses have no place in our supply chain,” Nestlé’s vice president of operations, Magdi Batato, said.

"Nestlé believes that by working with suppliers we can make a positive difference to the sourcing of ingredients."

Nestlé’s action plan includes ten objectives with a series of actions designed to protect workers from abuses, improve working conditions and tackle unacceptable practices, including juvenile and teenage working.

A grievance mechanism will be launched through which workers can anonymously report unacceptable working practices and abuses. And the company plans to identify a third party partner to help set up a "migrant workforce emergency response team" that will identify individuals in need of immediate assistance and have the authority to mobilize any actions needed to protect people.

The seafood supply chain, including all potential sources of ingredients for seafood products will be monitored. Boat owners and captains will be trained on acceptable recruitment practices and living and working conditions for boat workers.

Nestlé will also publicly report on its progress in creating a transparent supply chain by monitoring on an ongoing basis business partners’ supply chain management systems, using independent third party assessors.

“We believe that our action plan will help improve the lives of those affected by unacceptable practices,” Batato added.

“This will be neither a quick nor an easy endeavour, but we look forward to making significant progress in the months ahead. Nestlé is committed to eliminating forced labour in our seafood supply chain in Thailand, working alongside other stakeholders to tackle this serious and complex issue.”

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