Thursday, April 9, 2015

09/04/2015: Lidl selling shrimp produced by exploited workers report published this week by Fairfood International reveals that the shrimp sold in European supermarkets, including Lidl, are peeled and processed by exploited Asian shrimp workers who earn poverty wages. This morning, Fairfood gathered in front of the Dutch headquarters of the global supermarket chain Lidl - part of the Schwarz Group, the fifth largest retailer in the world - in Huizen to stress that it is unacceptable that Lidl sells these shrimp produced by exploited workers.
Fairfood’s report, entitled ‘Caught in a trap – The story of poverty wages behind Asian shrimp sold in European supermarkets’, reveals that Lidl sources its shrimp from Thailand: one of the largest producers of tropical shrimp and one of the countries where Fairfood encountered some of the worst transgressions.  

The Thai shrimp processing industry mostly employs migrant workers from Myanmar who earn next to nothing and are bonded by debts.

These workers earn a meagre 8 euros a day, while their basic living costs are approximately 12 euros a day. Burmese shrimp workers’ low wages are often further diminished by numerous deductions from their pay checks for things like work equipment, as well as debt repayments for work permit fees, visa costs or debts to brokers. As a consequence, these workers are forced to rely on overtime to be able to survive and endure long working hours, which can be in excess of 60 hours per week. 

Wendy Schutte, Advocacy Manager at Fairfood International states, “The Asian shrimp industry is a thriving industry. Nonetheless, Fairfood has found that workers in the shrimp processing industry, who are at the bottom of the supply chain, are unable to support themselves and their families. The Burmese workers in Thailand told us they are forced to lend money at high interest rates to be able to support their families in Myanmar, on top of the debts they have already incurred to be able to work in Thailand. Workers are trapped in a circle of extreme in-work poverty that resembles modern slavery. ”

Despite the fact that Lidl’s Code of Conduct indicates that the company aims to pay wages that cover the cost of living in its supply chains, Lidl has not yet responded to these alarming abuses that have been pointed out to them by Fairfood numerous times. 

This morning, a special Fairfood choir serenaded staff at the Lidl headquarters and handed over a copy of the report to representatives from Lidl Netherlands. The group sang reworked classics, such as the Song of the Shrimp, by Elvis Presley, while staff entered the building.

“We have come to Huizen, a wealthy town in the Netherlands, with its roots in the fishing industry, to highlight the stark difference between the labour conditions on Lidl’s headquarters and those we have found further down their supply chains”, says Schutte.
Fairfood demands that Lidl takes its own human rights commitments seriously by enforcing the payment of living wages in its supply chain. 
Schutte states: “For a company that was estimated to have made nearly €50bn in sales in 2013, it is shocking to learn that they are not more active in their supply chains to ensure that workers within it can afford a decent standard of living. It is unacceptable that poverty wages and the exploitation of a poor and vulnerable workforce are used to generate huge trade in Europe. Lidl needs to stop paying lip service, and start paying a living wage, starting within their tropical shrimp supply chains.”
       Lidl responded to Fairfood’s action by stating that 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.

Schutte recognises that the issue is indeed complex, ”But it seems that instead of taking steps to address living wage, Lidl is choosing not to act at all. And in fact, living on these poverty wages is much more complicated.”

In order to tackle the issue Fairfood has launched a living wage campaign, including a petition that can be signed by consumers to tell Lidl to take responsibility for their practices and ensure fair wages to all workers in their food supply chains.

Read the report HERE.

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1 comment:

  1. There have never been as many slaves in history as there are now. That fact is depressing, but needs to be known.


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