We ended 2015 with nine posts on the issue of modern slavery in the coffeelands—this eight-part series on our research into wretched labor conditions on a small number of Brazilian coffee estates and this reflection on how that work is inspired by our mission to serve the poorest and most vulnerable people. Those posts were rather narrow in focus—one country, one specific category of labor abuse. An article we contributed to the current issue of Roast Magazine titled “Farmworkers in Coffee: Improving Conditions for the Industry’s Most Vulnerable Players” is wider in scope—it surveys the broader context of farm labor in coffee that we are working to address through our research, writing and programming.
Global food giant Nestle said it has found that its Thailand seafood suppliers are engaged in abusive labor practices — a risk many companies face when sourcing from the country’s fishing industry.
Impoverished migrant workers in Thailand are sold or lured by false promises and forced to catch and process fish that ends up in global food giant Nestlé’s supply chains. The unusual disclosure comes from Geneva-based Nestlé itself, which in an act of self-policing announced the conclusions of its year-long internal investigation on Monday. The study found virtually all US and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains.
Impoverished migrant workers in Thailand are sold or lured by false promises and forced to catch and process fish that ends up in global food giant Nestle SA’s supply chains. The unusual disclosure comes from Geneva-based Nestle SA itself, which in an act of self-policing announced the conclusions of its yearlong internal investigation on Monday. The study found virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains.Nestle SA, among the biggest food companies in the world, launched the investigation in December 2014, after reports from news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tied brutal and largely unregulated working conditions to their shrimp, prawns and Purina brand pet foods. Its findings echo those of The Associated Press in reports this year on slavery in the seafood industry that have resulted in the rescue of more than 2,000 fishermen.
Patagonia has spent a lot of time and money on billing itself as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly brand. In 2011, the company slapped its anti-consumerism “Don’t Buy This Jacket” advertisements all over the U.S.–effectively suggesting people not buy its products. And it regularly touts the work-life balance policies first codified by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. A company mantra displayed prominently and reverently adhered to: “Let my people go surfing.” Imagine the shock when in 2011 the company learned that some of its suppliers put workers through deplorable conditions–including making them pay thousands of dollars just to work. To secure a job in Taiwan, migrant workers must pay a “broker” to help them find a position. As Patagonia notes, these fees can be upwards of $7,000, and can take migrant workers more than two years to repay.