News National Coles, Woolies, Aldi buying seafood from ‘slavery’ company

Coles, Woolies, Aldi buying seafood from ‘slavery’ company

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Supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have admitted to buying seafood from a company accused of slave labour.

The three major retailers stock frozen seafood from Thai company Thai Union, whose lascivious practises were revealed in an investigation by Associated Press (AP).

The probe captured footage of forced labour at the Gig Peeling Factory in Samut Sakhon, a Thai Union factory outside Bangkok.

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During interviews with AP, both child and adult workers in the factory described 16-hour working days spent shelling prawns and hands aching from the cold water.

The scandal has broken just in time for Australian summer. Photo: Getty
The scandal has broken just in time for Australian summer. Photo: Getty

One worker, Khine Zin Soe, 24, said she was forced to work while pregnant, and to continue after she miscarried.

Workers said they were paid little or nothing, and believed they would be killed if they attempted to escape.

A 25-year-old woman said when she tried to escape she was captured and handcuffed inside a small shed.

All three supermarkets have admitted stocking the prawns in question, although Coles pointed out its fresh prawns were supplied by a local retailer.

The chains have each launched their own investigations, according to Fairfax.

“We will investigate this further with our supplier and seek advice from our NGO partners,” a Woolworths spokesperson told AAP.

ALDI confirmed in a statement it does not stock Thai Union’s frozen prawns, just canned fish and chicken from the company.

Fellow supermarket chain IGA said Thai Union was not a major supplier, but it couldn’t rule out stocking its product in some capacity.

According to Fairfax, the workers mainly hailed from Myanmar, and were often locked inside the premises.

“I am deeply disappointed that, despite our best efforts, we have discovered this potential instance of illegal labor practice in our supply chain,” Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri said in a statement.

He blamed a supplier who was “doing business with an unregistered pre-processor in violation of our code of conduct.”

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