Union Organizer Accuses Foreign Shrimp Processors of Labor Law Violations

NFI calls for accusations to be investigated

April 23, Washington The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) rejects any mistreatment of workers or other human rights abuses. Workers whether they be fishermen on the water, farmers at their ponds, or processors at plants form the backbone of the seafood community. NFI takes accusations of worker mistreatment seriously.

However, NFI also demands any group making an accusation provide specific details, so appropriate authorities can properly investigate the situation. In a report released on April 23, The Solidarity Center, an offshoot of the AFL-CIO union, alleges that workers at fish processing plants in Thailand and Bangladesh are mistreated. These charges should be examined. If true, offending companies should be punished

If there are bad actors in Thailand and Bangladesh, US importers should reject them, said NFI President John Connelly. If these accusations are valid, they stand in stark contrast to the code by which the US seafood community operates. Lets hope that these accusation turn out to be incorrect.

American importers, producers, processors and fishermen work hard to ensure the use of practices that promote not only the sustainability of their product but also the health and safety of their workers. A commitment to competitive wages and sound working conditions is a hallmark of the industry. Any suggestion that shrimp importers have knowingly purchased products from processing facilities substandard in their treatment of workers is simply not consistent with the character of the industry. Additionally, any suggestion that these alleged practices are widespread is false. Painting the entire industry with a broad brush does a disservice to the conscientious companies that meet and exceed operational standards every day.

Ninety percent of the shrimp Americans eat is imported. As the single most popular type of seafood, it is a healthy and sustainable staple of the US diet.

Consumers need to know their shrimp comes from a safe and trusted source. The charges of The Solidarity Center should be thoroughly examined, said Connelly.