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In their annual modern slavery statement, the UK-based multinational groceries chain Tesco found abuses against migrant workers at its stores and distribution centres in Malaysia and Thailand.
The assessment was commissioned by Tesco to be conducted by an independent human rights consultancy Impactt. The assessment of migrant workers’ rights was made with additional intelligence internally and from suppliers.
Impactt found that in both Malaysia and Thailand, allegations included passport retention, unexplained and illegal wage reduction, heavy indebtedness to labour brokers, and excessive overtime work.
The findings were based on interviews with 168 migrant workers in Malaysia and 187 migrants workers in Thailand.
In Malaysia specifically, 68 Indonesian and 171 Nepali workers have had their passports withheld, which is a crime. All passports have since been returned to their rightful owners.
In response, Tesco has developed a plan to investigate further, including detailed examinations of specific allegations, setting up support lines and grievance mechanisms for agency workers in their native language, and additional guidelines to ensure workers have access to their passports whenever needed.
Tesco will also be training their managers on diversity and inclusion, review and improve accommodation and worker welfare audits, provide all pending payments in full, and shift to hiring migrant workers directly so that they will no longer need to rely on agencies which can lead to abuse outside of Tesco’s control.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.