Costco Sued Over ‘Slave Labor’ Shrimp From Thailand

August 21, 2015
Sentinel Republic

Costco’s purchases of Thailand’s farmed prawns, which are raised on a diet of cheap fish caught at sea with unpaid, forced labour, helped prop up an industry whose practices were ignored by local authorities, according to the complaint filed yesterday in San Francisco federal court.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Niall McCarthy, of Cotchette, Pitre & McCarthy, said in a statement that human suffering should not be overlooked to improve economic bottom line of a company and California consumers are unknowingly favoring slave labor.

A California woman filed a lawsuit to Costco for their role in the Thai fishing industry’s exploitation of its workers. As the third-largest exporter, Thailand’s sales total $7.3 billion every year; 650,000 people – mostly migrants and slaves – fish waters extending to Indonesia.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant the U.S. distributor of the prawns, Columbia, Maryland-based CP Food Products, and its Thailand-based parent company, Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co.

According to an investigation conducted by The Guardian last year, men were regularly sold to work on fishing boats where they endured “horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings”.

“Any representation by Costco that slavery in the supply chain is not allowed is simply false”, the lawsuit alleges.

Costco said allegations about issues in the Thai seafood industry have been “well publicized” for more than a year.

“Costco has the clout to dictate terms to its suppliers and sub-suppliers and enforce its policies against slave labor”, said a statement Co-Lead Counsel Derek Howard, from Howard Law Firm, one of three leading state companies that will be taking on the retailer. According to attorney Anne Marie Murphy, the slave labor is concentrated on ships that harvest “trash fish”, which is then fed to the shrimp... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)