Scandinavian buyers cry foul over Thai food industry's actions
A group of importers that includes some of Scandinavia's largest retailers has publicly criticized the Thai food industry's response to reports alleging human rights abuses.
In a letter to the Thai Food Processors Association (TFPA) and the Thai Pineapple Industry Association (TPIA), buyer group United Nordic said it welcomed investigations such as Finnwatch's 'Cheap Has a Price' and 'Out of a Ditch and into a Pond', Human Rights Watch's 'Tiger to the Dragon', and reports by network Al-Jazeera in 2012.
'Cheap has a Price' was co-authored by British lawyer Andy Hall, who will face trial in Thailand on Sep. 2 to face charges brought by fruit procesor Natural Fruit alleging defamation, which could bring penalties of up to US$10 million in damages and a seven-year jail sentence.
"We consider the right way to handle such criticism to be presenting facts and engaging in constructive dialogue with all parties involved. This will help to improve working conditions step by step for people working in the supply chain as well as the overall development of the industry," United Nordic said in the letter.
The group said it was 'greatly worried and concerned' about the negative development of the action against Hall, and that such a development could further hurt the Thai food industry.
"Therefore we ask TFPA to limit any such expansion within the industry, and instead actively promote the engagement of constructive dialogues with organisations and civil society, as opposed to taking legal action, to demonstrate to all its members the importance of respecting human rights (including the freedom of speech) and of compliance with labour laws," the letter said.
The letter was signed by representatives from Axfood Sverige (Sweden), Martin & Servera (Sweden), Dagrofa (Denmark), Norgesgruppen/Unil AS (Norway) and Tuko Logistics Coop (Finland).
In other news relating to the case, a campaign has emerged on website Sumofus.org urging Dole to quit the TPIA unless its president Wirat Piyapornpaiboon - who also heads up Natural Fruit - drops the charges against Hall.
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