Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thanks for standing up for human rights


Thanks for adding your voice to our call for Walmart to allow independent monitors to inspect their factories and prevent human rights abuses like what happened at 2 factories in Thailand.

We need to build pressure on Walmart to win, and the best way to do that is to get more people to join you in taking action. Can you either forward the email below to your friends, or share on Facebook?

Click to share on Facebook

Thank you!

- Kaytee, Taren and the rest of us

Here's an email you can forward to friends:


Earlier this month, in a factory in Thailand that processes shrimp for a major supplier to Walmart, there was a revolt. 2,000 guest workers from Cambodia and Myanmar angrily protested the seizure of their passports by factory owners in Thailand. Police were called. Shots were fired.

But it wasn't just the passport seizure that incited their anger -- it was management slashing wages again. Their wages already didn't cover the most basic needs, and this action put workers deeper into the factory's debt -- it's called debt bondage. At this moment, many of them are still legally and financially trapped at the factory, victims of human trafficking. 

Sign our petition to Walmart's VP of Ethical Sourcing Rajan Kamalanathan to demand these factory owners end human trafficking immediately and allow independent monitors to audit all of their factories.


This is not an isolated incident. Also in Thailand, a pineapple factory had similar protests over wage reductions. There are now reports of human trafficking and that children under 15 have been bought and sold to work there. More than 73% of this factory's US shipments go to Walmart.

Walmart's own internal system claims to protect against these abuses, some of which the Bangkok Post Editorial staff have described as "the equivalent of actual slavery". But these two cases highlight a chronic problem -- human trafficking, identity document seizure, child labor, forced unpaid overtime, and debt-bondage are found across Walmart's supply chain. 

Its internal system that audits factories to prevent these kind of abuses is broken at its core. 

We only know about these worker abuses because their revolt spilled out onto the streets. The problem is almost certainly far worse -- and extends beyond the borders of Thailand. But we don't know for sure and neither does Walmart.

We know that Walmart's internal auditors schedule visits to factories -- a deeply flawed practice that allows owners to coach workers and hide the most egregious abuses as is evident today. On the other hand, independent monitors show up unannounced, don't aim to please factory owners, and provide a real check against some of the worst abuses -- that is why they are so desperately needed.

Walmart customers around the world may be buying shrimp, pineapple, and who knows what else and unwittingly supporting near-slavery, debt bondage and child labor. We as consumers shouldn't have to worry about supporting those kinds of horrendous abuses. 

Walmart is already feeling the heat after a New York Times investigation exposed a top-level cover up of a bribery scandal in the company's Mexican subsidiary. With mainstream media drawing attention to Walmart's broken internal auditing, they are desperately trying to regain public trust. If we press this issue now, while Walmart and the media are listening, we can help bring an end to these practices and can protect some of the most vulnerable workers around the world.

That's why we set up a petition to Walmart's VP of Ethical Sourcing, calling for him to demand these factory owners end human trafficking immediately and allow independent monitors to audit all of their factories. Will you add your name?




Additional Reading:

Bangkok Post Editorial, End This Abuse by Companies, 24 April 2012  
ABC MelbourneExploitation Claims Hit Thai Seafood Exporter, 11 April 2012

SumOfUs is a world-wide movement of people like you, working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy. You can follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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