Online petition on Sumofus.org website
Earlier this month, in a factory in Thailand that processes
shrimp for a major supplier to Walmart there was a revolt.2,000 guest workers
from Cambodia and Myanmar angrily protested the seizure of their passports by
factory owners in Thailand. Police were called. Shots were fired.
But it wasn’t just the passport seizure that incited the
workers’ anger — it was management slashing wages again. Their wages already
didn’t cover the most basic needs, and this action put workers deeper into the
factory’s debt — it’s called debt bondage. At this moment, many of them are
still legally and financially trapped at the factory, victims of human
Sign our petition to Walmart’s VP of Ethical Sourcing Rajan
Kamalanathan to demand these factory owners end human trafficking immediately
and allow independent monitors to audit all of their factories.
This is not an isolated incident. Also in Thailand, a
pineapple factory had similar protests over wage reductions. There are now
reports of human trafficking and that children under 15 have been bought and
sold to work there. More than 73% of this factory’s shipments to the USA go to
Walmart’s own internal system claims to protect against
these abuses, some of which theBangkok Post Editorial staff have described as
“the equivalent of actual slavery”. But these two cases highlight a chronic
problem — human trafficking, identity document seizure, child labor, forced
unpaid overtime, and debt-bondage are found across Walmart’s supply chain.
Walmart’s internal system that audits factories to prevent
these kind of abuses is broken at its core.
We only know about these abuses abuses because the workers’
revolt spilled out onto the streets. The problem is almost certainly far worse
— and extends beyond the borders of Thailand. But we don’t know for sure and
neither does Walmart.
We know that Walmart’s internal auditors schedule visits to
factories — a deeply flawed practice that allows owners to coach workers and
hide the most egregious abuses as is evident today. On the other hand,
independent monitors show up unannounced, don’t aim to please factory owners,
and provide a real check against some of the worst abuses — that is why they
are so desperately needed.
Walmart customers around the world may be buying shrimp,
pineapple, and who knows what else and unwittingly supporting near-slavery,
debt bondage and child labor. We as consumers shouldn’t have to worry about
supporting those kinds of horrendous abuses.
Walmart is already feeling the heat after a New York Times
investigation exposed a top-level cover up of a bribery scandal in the company’s
Mexican subsidiary. With mainstream media drawing attention to Walmart’s broken
internal auditing, it is desperately trying to regain public trust. If we press
this issue now, while Walmart and the media are listening, we can help bring an
end to these practices and can protect some of the most vulnerable workers
around the world.
That’s why we set up a petition to Walmart’s VP of Ethical
Sourcing, calling for him to demand these factory owners end human trafficking
immediately and allow independent monitors to audit all of their factories.
Will you add your name?
To sign the petition, please go to http://sumofus.org/campaigns/shrimp/