A recent briefing paper by the International Labor Rights Forum and the Warehouse Workers United noted labor abuses at Thai shrimp producer, Narong Seafood, which has been a major supplier to Walmart and a leading shrimp processor for the U.S. market. But despite the prevalence of abuse, the paper recommends that Walmart not drop Narong as a supplier, but instead “work with labor and human rights activists in Thailand to ensure the rights of the workers who produce shrimp for Walmart in Thailand are respected.”
Forced labor, including debt bondage, also continues to sustain palm oil plantations in Malaysia, also on the Tier 2 Watch List, and Indonesia. (Palm oil is used in lots of processed foods, from Dunkin Donuts to Girl Scout cookies.) Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil and trader of 25 percent of the world’s palm oil supply, says it has a policy of not using any slave or child labor. But the Rainforest Action Network has alleged that one of Cargill’s palm oil suppliers used slave labor on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Even in the U.S., food workers aren’t exempt from abuse and even slavery. As our NPR colleague Yuki Noguchi last month, men with intellectual disabilities who worked at an Iowa turkey-processing plant suffered severe verbal and physical abuse for over 20 years. A jury eventually awarded the men approximately $3,000,000, the largest jury verdict in the history of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The NPR Article
How many slaves work for you?