Greenpeace Storms Walmart Shareholder Meeting to Call Out Failures on Human Rights

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Media Officer, P: 301-675-8766

Greenpeace Storms Walmart Shareholder Meeting to Call Out Failures on Human Rights

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - Greenpeace flew its thermal airship and drove a mobile billboard truck around Walmart’s annual general meeting this week to highlight the company’s failure to address ocean destruction and potential human rights abuses in its tuna supply chain. The airship featured banners that read, “Walmart: Clean up needed in the tuna aisle” and “Save oceans. Protect workers.” The mobile billboard truck broadcasted graphics about Walmart’s destructive Great Value canned tuna, which is supplied by Thai Union — the largest tuna company in the world and owner of Chicken of the Sea.

“Walmart can no longer hide the very real threat of labor abuse and ocean destruction with its insufficient policy statements and greenwashing,” said Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky. “Shareholders and customers now know that Walmart is ignoring the possibility of horrific abuses of workers throughout its supply chain as it continues selling cheap canned tuna from seafood predator Thai Union.”

Greenpeace is campaigning against Walmart for its sale of destructive and unethical canned tuna. Walmart has shirked its responsibility to adopt improved procurement policies and address  the potential human rights abuses and rampant ocean destruction connected to Thai Union seafood. Greenpeace is calling on Walmart to demand more sustainable and ethical tuna from Thai Union or reject its products entirely.

“Walmart represents roughly one quarter of U.S. canned tuna sales and must use its buying power to clean up the exploitative tuna industry,” said Senior Oceans Campaigner Jackie Dragon. “Walmart has a responsibility to take care of its own workers and ensure the fair and ethical treatment of those who bring products to store shelves. Ignoring the treatment of Thai Union tuna industry workers raises concerns about Walmart’s standards throughout its entire supply chain.”

Walmart has faced increasing pressure to address labor issues in stores and throughout its supply chains. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) was also in Fayetteville to call on Walmart to provide a $15 living wage, predictable schedules, accommodations for health needs, and respect for all workers. Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the labor union in urging the retail giant to treat workers fairly from sea to factory to stores.

“Walmart is the world’s largest retailer,” said Randy Parraz, UFCW Campaign Director for Making Change at Walmart. “It is unacceptable that some workers in the US are paid so low they struggle to put food on tables and workers in Thai Union’s supply chain abroad are subject to abuse. Walmart can and should do better.”

A Walmart employee working with UFCW’s Making Change at Walmart campaign who has encountered difficulties moving up and getting paid what she is worth spoke to a resolution on the AGM floor today. She urged Walmart to take responsibility for human rights abuse of workers and environmental impacts throughout its supply chains. The resolution, noting Walmart’s connection to Thai Union, asked investors to vote for strong public commitments and policies from the retailer on canned tuna.

Over the last month Greenpeace activists have disrupted Thai Union’s operations at multiple points in its supply chain. At Walmart stores in the U.S. and Canada, activists removed all Great Value and Chicken of the Sea canned tuna products from store shelves and interfered with their sale by hiding and pushing the products in carts around the store. Activists on Greenpeace’s Esperanza ship removed and destroyed dozens of fish aggregating devices (FADs) — destructive fishing gear that damages entire ecosystems — from boats that supply Thai Union in the Indian Ocean. The ship crew also confronted a controversial vessel at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain and used spray paint to black out high-powered lights used for a fishing method linked to overfishing. And activists in France shut down and rebranded a Thai Union factory for 14 hours to prevent trucks from coming or going.

Walmart failed Greenpeace’s 2015 U.S. canned tuna ranking for its sustainability and labor issues. The retailer also scored a mediocre 5.47/10 in Greenpeace’s ninth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, which ranks retailers on seafood sustainability.

Greenpeace on Wednesday sent an investor briefing to top Walmart shareholders to detail concerns over Thai Union tuna. To access a media briefing on Walmart’s canned tuna issues, please click here: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Walmart-Thai-Union-Canned-Tuna-Briefing.pdf

For photos and b-roll footage of the airship and billboard truck in Fayetteville, please click here: http://photo.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJJ42LZ1

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Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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