Workers’ rights group targets four U.S. suppliers
By SeafoodSource staff
29 June, 2012
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Southern Pride Catfish Co. is a subsidiary of American Seafoods Group; American Seafoods Group sold the catfish producer to Heartland Catfish Co. in 2008.
Four U.S. seafood suppliers are among the 12 companies identified by a workers’ rights organization trying to expose labor violations among Walmart suppliers.
After conducting a review of 18 Walmart suppliers that employ guest workers via the H-2B visa program, the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) found that two-thirds were collectively cited for 644 federal safety, health, and wage and hour violations. The violations, however, date back many years.
Of the 12 Walmart suppliers, four are seafood suppliers. They are America’s Catch in Itta Bena, Miss., Aqua Farms Crawfish in Basile, La., Southern Pride Catfish Co. in Greensboro, Ala., and Trident Seafoods Corp. in Seattle.
Trident said in a statement released to the media that any attempt to tie it to a labor abuse scandal “is patently false” and that its “plant safety and human resource policies are among the best in the seafood industry.”
Released on Friday, the review comes on the heels of a Worker Rights Consortium investigation that found “systematic violations of labor law and grossly inhumane treatment” at C.J.’s Seafood in Breaux Bridge, La., which supplies crawfish to Walmart. The retailer, North America’s largest, has reportedly suspended doing business with the supplier.
A Change.org petition urging Walmart to stop buying seafood from C.J.’s Seafood had collected more than 145,000 signatures as of early Monday. One of the guest workers, Ana Rosa Diaz, accuses a C.J.’s Seafood manager of forcing guest workers to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay, among other things.
“The staggering number of federal labor violations we found at two-thirds of the U.S. Walmart suppliers we surveyed shows that Walmart is making no serious effort to enforce its own Standards for Suppliers,” said Saket Soni, NGA executive director, in a press release. “These violations are further proof that Walmart needs to enter into a productive dialogue with us and the C.J.’s Seafood guest workers to discuss real enforcement to end forced labor, and to shift to a business model that doesn’t rely on the exploitation of guest workers.”
Click here to download a PDF of the NGA review >
Based in New Orleans, the NGA was formed as the Alliance of Guestworkers after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
29 June, 2012