One of the largest Thai seafood exporters, Narong Seafood Company Limited, was recently accused of violating human rights laws. Narong Seafood is best known for their longtime relationship with Walmart as its main seafood supplier.
An investigation was sparked when Narong posted this on the front page of their website: “Narong Seafood [is] against any form of child labor, forced labor and human trafficking.” While the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) and Warehouse Workers United (WWU) visited Narong’s main factory in February and March, findings were only recently made public in a brief titled, “The Walmart Effect: Child and Worker Rights Violations at Narong Seafood, Thailand’s Model Shrimp Processing Factory.”
In the document, the ILRF and WWU allegedly found evidence showing Narong factories employing underage workers for extremely low wages, as well as charging huge fees for workers to obtain permits, and the ineffectiveness of an auditing system. ILRF’s executive director Judy Gearhart questioned the industry’s efforts to eliminate labor abuses from their supply chain: “The case of Narong seafood casts serious doubts on the effectiveness of the auditing programs of Global Aquaculture Alliance and Walmart.”
In recent years, Thailand’s shrimp processing industry was being watched due to supposed outputs of diseased shrimp, so Walmart established a partnership with the Global Aquaculture Alliance to make sure their suppliers abided by environmental and labor standards. Fish Information & Services (FIS) stated that between 100 and 200 undocumented migrant workers were working factory night shifts.
However, these two organizations discouraged Walmart from dropping Narong as their supplier, and instead asked the company to “ensure [that] the rights of workers who produce shrimp for Walmart in Thailand are respected,” Gearhart concludes.