Workplace Issues

Nestlé Finds Some Suppliers Abusing Workers

Report finds instances of forced labor and human trafficking among food company's suppliers in Thailand.
Katie Kuehner-HebertNovember 24, 2015

Some of Nestlé’s suppliers in Thailand are abusing workers, according to a report that the company commissioned from Verite, a U.S.-based fair labor advocacy group.

Verité found indications of forced labor, trafficking, and child labor to be present among sea-based and land-based workers engaged by Nestlé’s suppliers, according to the report. While many of the problems reported by workers are systemic in nature and tied to the general vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Thailand, the advocacy group recommended that Nestlé both take immediate actions to resolve critical hazards and develop longer-term strategies to minimize worker abuse by suppliers.

“We urge Nestlé and other industry stakeholders to develop a long-term approach that fully integrates management of forced labor, human trafficking, and other human rights risks into their business decisions and sourcing practices,” the authors wrote. “Such an approach will attend to the risks that can be addressed through business partnerships and the Nestlé supply chain, and also address the policies and social conditions that drive systemic risk into the sector.”

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Nestlé on Monday announced that it had published an action plan on seafood sourced from Thailand. The plan contains a series of actions designed to protect workers from abuses, improve working conditions, and tackle unacceptable practices including underage workers.

“Nestlé is committed to eliminating forced labor in [its] seafood supply chain in Thailand, working alongside other stakeholders to tackle this serious and complex issue,” Nestlé’s executive vice president of operations Magdi Batato said in a press release. “We believe that our Action Plan will help improve the lives of those affected by unacceptable practices. This will be neither a quick nor an easy endeavor, but we look forward to making significant progress in the months ahead.”

This summer a class action suit was filed against Nestle alleging the company’s Fancy Feast cat food — imported from its partner, Thai Union Frozen Products — was the product of slave labor, according to CNNMoney. The workers are often trafficked from poorer neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, according to the complaint.