No response from Lidl on poverty wages in shrimp industry

30 April 2015

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre published an article on our shrimp report last week and invited all supermarkets mentioned in our report – and linked to the issue of poverty wages in the Asian shrimp industry – to respond. Lidl, one of the supermarkets in Europe that sells Asian shrimp, did not respond. The company is one of the largest supermarkets in Europe, which is why Fairfood is currently encouraging the company to use its bargaining power for something good: to pay living wages in their supply chains. We are disappointed that Lidl told Business & Human Rights Resource Centre that they “had no further comment; it previously responded to Fairfood’s public action calling for a living wage” (see the article on Fairfood’s public action at Lidl’s Dutch headquarters).

Lidl: “living wages are complex”

On 8 April, we published our shrimp report which revealed that tropical shrimp sold in European supermarkets, including Lidl, Aldi, Jumbo and PLUS, are peeled by Asian shrimp workers who earn poverty wages, which are not enough to live on. The report also revealed that Lidl sources its shrimp from Thailand: one of the largest producers of tropical shrimp and one of the countries where Fairfood encountered some of the worst transgressions.

Despite the fact that Lidl’s Code of Conduct indicates that the company aims to pay wages that cover the cost of living in its supply chains, Lidl has not yet agreed to take action to stop these alarming abuses that have been pointed out to them by Fairfood numerous times.

To encourage Lidl to take its own human rights commitments seriously by enforcing the payment of living wages in its supply chain, we handed over the first publication of our report to Lidl’s headquarters in the Netherlands and told them to stop paying lip service, and start paying a living wage, starting within their tropical shrimp supply chains.

Lidl responded to Fairfood’s action repeating what they said to us before: they agree that living wages are important, but that it is complicated to ensure that all workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. Fairfood believes that living on these poverty wages is much more complicated. Now it seems that instead of taking steps to address living wage, Lidl is choosing not to act at all.

72,000 consumers call on Lidl to pay living wages

We therefore urge Lidl put their policies into practice and make sure workers that wages in their supply chains indeed cover the costs of living of workers. We do not stand alone in our convictions. Together with SumOfUs, we have collected over 72,000 signatures from consumers, who are demanding Lidl pay living wages, starting with the exploited workers in their tropical shrimp supply chain.

Do you want to help Fairfood and SumOfUs in calling on Lidl to make them pay a living wage? Sign our petition and make Lidl pay living wages, starting with the exploited workers in their shrimp supply chain!

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is an independent non-profit that monitors the human rights abuses and advances of companies around the world and helps the vulnerable eradicate abuse.