// Tesco finds evidence of slavery in Thailand and Malaysia
// The grocer published the findings in its annual modern slavery statement
Tesco has found evidence of abuse against migrant employees at its distribution centres and stores located in Thailand and Malaysia.
In its annual modern slavery statement, the Big 4 grocer listed allegations based on interviews with 168 migrant workers in Malaysia and 187 in Thailand.
These included passport retention, unexplained and illegal wage reductions, heavy indebtedness to labour brokers and excessive overtime work.
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In Malaysia, the passports of 68 Indonesian and 171 Nepali workers were withheld, while 15 passports and up to 30 work permits were withheld by a supplier in Thailand.
Tesco said all passports were returned to workers and new policies and “procedures introduced for when passports are required for work permit renewal or other government purposes”.
Meanwhile, the retail giant also found that levels of indebtedness to service or labour providers were higher in Malaysia.
Tesco sought to dive further into the situation, with a detailed investigation of specific allegations, setting up support lines and grievance mechanisms for agency workers in their home languages.
As a result of the findings, Tesco said it will train managers on diversity and inclusion, review and improve accommodation and worker welfare audits, provide full remediation, including the repayment of recruitment fees, and shift to recruit migrant workers directly as a preference.
Last year, hired independent human rights consultancy Impactt to assess migrant workers’ rights.