Press & News
Response to recent Swedwatch / Finnwatch report
CP Foods notes the recent media discussion and speculation in relation to the report on conditions in the poultry industry issued by Swedwatch/Finnwatch, which includes comments on two CP Foods facilities. While most of the comments relating to CP Foods in the report are positive, there are a number of issues raised which we would like to clarify.
It was suggested in the report that some employees had not received a copy of their employment contract. It is a long-standing CP Foods policy that both employer and employee receive a contract copy. The issue is potentially that employees may have mislaid or discarded their copies over time. We will always be happy to provide employees with a new copy of their contract and explain its terms to them should they require it.
It was also suggested that passports were held for a longer period after being collected for the Thailand Immigration Department review required every 90 days for foreign workers. CP Foods provides a free service to collect passports, take them to the government office for review and then redistribute them. This is done in batches to make the process more efficient, which does result in some delay, but we believe it is of benefit to workers for CP Foods to undertake this service on their behalf.
Debt and recruitment costs
During 2014, we piloted a new set of policies and guidelines, and following those trials, we launched our new foreign labour hiring policy in April 2015. We are confident that the policies we now have in place regarding the hiring and treatment of foreign workers meet, and in many respects exceed, domestic and international standards.
The report indicated that, in some cases, there were signs that workers were charged recruitment fees by recruitment agencies in the workers’ country of origin, creating a debt burden for them. Under the MOU’s signed between the governments of Thailand and its neighboring countries, it is mandatory to use officially designated recruitment agencies in the workers’ country of origin.
As announced in April of this year, CP Foods recently implemented a new foreign labour hiring policy under which all workers will be hired directly by CP Foods and no recruitment fees will be payable by the employee, thus eliminating the use of all labour recruitment agencies in Thailand. Since this policy is still being implemented across all our factories, we will assess this issue using internal debt surveys of both the workers and the recruitment agencies in the workers’ country of origin, and we will find appropriate measures to help ease the debt burden of our workers.
CP Foods does not make any unlawful deductions from the salaries of our workforce. A misunderstanding may have arisen around the fact that under Thai law we are required to make a 5% withholding from salaries to pay to the Thailand Social Security office for a continuous period of 90 days before employees are eligible for a social security card. In the event that there are delays from the Thai Social Security office in issuing social security cards after this 90 day period, the workers are covered by the separate Thailand Pink Card Scheme for sickness or accidental injury.
Toilet break limits
While it was correctly noted that we do not punish employees for taking longer toilet breaks, we do track the time taken for such breaks. The reason we do this is that, as a leading food business, we maintain extremely high health and hygiene standards, and toilet breaks of longer than 15 minutes may be indicative of gastro-intestinal illness, and employees suffering from such symptoms cannot be allowed back into the sterile food production areas, in accordance with international food safety standards.
The report suggests that the welfare committees in the two factories visited may be inactive. This is certainly not the case, and we would be happy to share the minutes of the regular committee meetings. The members are elected by the workforce, so we were concerned to note that some of them may be unaware that they are in operation, and will make sure that this is given higher profile at the facilities to generate better awareness and understanding.
The investigation alleges harsher treatment of foreign workers in relation to scolding and exhortation to work faster. CP Foods has in place a clear Diversity & Inclusion Policy and constantly communicates with line supervisors on appropriate management techniques. We take this allegation very seriously and will investigate further – we will not tolerate ongoing breaches of our corporate policies and will quickly remedy them where discovered.