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“Thai Canneries Have Children Working” Spain, May 22, 13

Vieites talks in interview about “Authentic Atrocities”
Source: La Voz de A Coruna by Anton Soledad (translated to English) May 21, 2013 5:00
Juan Manuel Vieites of Anfaco says the Spanish canning industry does not want protectionism, but wants to compete on equal terms.

The free trade agreement negotiations that Europe is about to start with Thailand has alerted the Galician canning industry. The secretary general of the National Association of Spanish Seafood Processors - Anfaco, Juan Manuel Vieites, ensures he does not fear competition - "We do not want protectionism of any kind, we only want to compete at the same rules,” he says, and added “How can Brussels allow Asian companies to do things which are completely forbidden to European companies?”

Question- For example?
Answer- We are here being subjected to rigorous inspections, not only on health and hygiene aspects, but also environmental, labor, fiscal, and sustainability matters... For those who have not been in a Thai canning factory, it is not easy to get an idea of how it is there.
Have you been there?

Yes. Although initially not every factory would let me in. Only after having brainwashed us they gave us safe passage [accompanied by a local businessman].

And what did you see?

Authentic atrocities. For starters, a clear breach of human rights agreements, because there are children working in these plants. Of course, any product safety controls are absent. Suffice to say that they do not even have temperature gauges in the sterilizers. When I asked the operator, who was in charge, how he knew at how many degrees he was sterilizing, he said that was not a problem, he just gave the handle two rounds and kept it closed 25 minutes. Not to mention the condition in which the fish arrives to these factories...
And how does it arrive?
Walking on its own.

I am observing some irony here.

Not some, all. I have seen entire families unloading tunas, including children, from boats to a barge. Once at the dock, with all the heat and all the humidity, they loaded onto rickshaws to take them to the processing plants. When the tuna finally reaches the plant, not only has it thawed, it has then almost learned how to walk! But of course, as the theory says, sterilization kills everything...

It is assumed that the EU ensures its own standards are met.

The truth is that many times we wonder what inspectors are doing. Only when we really insist, controls are being performed. For example a few months ago our suspicions were confirmed. There were 19 food alerts in countries like Finland, Poland, Malta ...

In terms of wages, is there also much difference?

Yes. The president of the leading Thai company, which is also the number one in the world, visited a cannery in Vigo a few years ago. He was impressed. "With what you are spending here, I can have 15 factories, and for what you pay to one person, I have 26". This is the proof that we are not playing by the same rules.

Arias Cañete has promised government support.

Yes, he knows what’s at stake. Just Brussels also needs to understand that. Thailand is the largest producer of canned tuna in the world. When paying a 24% tariff, it’s already selling 75,000 tons in the European Union, once trade becomes free, it will hurt us deadly.

Editors note: The accusations of child labor has not stopped ANFACO members from also importing into Spain considerable quantities of frozen pre-cooked tuna loins – processed in the same Thai plants that pack canned tuna. In Spain, these loins, already cleaned by Thai workers, are then almost entirely automatically filled by Spanish processors into tuna cans labeled with “product of Spain”.