* CJ's Seafood cited for record-keeping, wage violations
* Wal-Mart investigation of CJ's is not yet complete
* Labor groups accuse CJ's of abuse, intimidation
By Karl Plume
June 30 Wal-Mart Stores Inc has
suspended one of its seafood suppliers amid allegations that the
company, CJ's Seafood of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, violated
several federal labor laws.
The retailing giant launched an investigation of CJ's
Seafood following a report published by labor rights group the
Worker Rights Consortium that said the crawfish processor abused
migrant workers, forced them to work 24 hour shifts and used
threats to prevent them from complaining to authorities.
Wal-Mart found that CJ's Seafood had violated some of its
supplier standards, including record-keeping violations and wage
requirements, but its investigation was not yet complete.
The seafood company, which employs 50 to 60 mostly migrant
workers, is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration and the Department of Labor.
"We uncovered violations of some of our supplier standards
and we also know that OSHA and DOL are also conducting
investigations so we have suspended CJ's Seafood as a supplier
pending the outcome of the investigations," said Wal-Mart
spokesman Lorenzo Lopez.
"Once the investigation is completed, we will take the
appropriate steps including permanently dropping CJ's Seafood as
a supplier if the allegations of forced labor are true," he
Several more of Wal-Mart's suppliers were guilty of similar
labor violations, said Saket Soni, director of the National
Guestworker Alliance, a migrant worker advocacy group that
requested the Worker Rights Consortium's investigation.
"The workers have exposed forced labor at CJ's and they have
been backed up by independent investigators ... This is just the
tip of the iceberg and that's why we want Wal-Mart to adopt
national standards for civil and labor rights," he said.
Wal-Mart disagreed with the allegations.
"Wal-Mart works with about 60,000 suppliers in the U.S. and
we have rigorous standards in place that our suppliers are
required to follow, including compliance with all labor
standards," Lopez said.