Media Release: FIRST Union
24 June 2014
Union applauds NZ supermarkets’ stance on slavery
The union representing retail workers applauds both New Zealand supermarket chains (Progressive Enterprises’ Countdown and Foodstuffs’ New World and Pak’n’Save) for taking a strong stance against alleged slave labour in global prawn supply chains.
FIRST Union wrote to both chains after a report from the Guardian newspaper on slave labour and other labour and human rights abuses in the supply chains of prawns sourced from Thai company CP Foods, seeking an assurance that NZ consumers were not complicit in such abuses.
“We have received satisfactory responses from both supermarkets,” said Robert Reid, General Secretary at FIRST Union.
“Progressive Enterprises confirmed to us they do not purchase prawns from Thailand, highlighting the standards expected of their suppliers regarding labour rights, working conditions and other social issues.
“Foodstuffs received written assurance from suppliers were not engaging in slave labour, and have initiated a more in-depth investigation by their Seafood Supply Chain and Sustainability Management Teams to corroborate that assurance.
“We are pleased that both of these companies have taken this matter so seriously. Slavery and worker exploitation is a sobering reality for millions of people across globalised food supply chains including within New Zealand. The practices of large purchasers like supermarkets can make a difference in preventing these abuses.”
FIRST Union will continue to monitor the situation with regard to labour rights abuses in this and other supply chains to ensure NZ consumers can enjoy a meal with peace of mind.