What do a multinational hypermarket and a home improvement chain have in common?
Walmart and Lowe's both have slavery in their supply chains.
A three-month investigation by news outlet Repórter Brasil found that both companies sell timber products made with wood provided by Brazilian suppliers that use slave labor.
Between 2012 and 2015, Lowe's purchased timber products from companies USFloors and Tradelink Madeiros -- which in turn, received it from Bonardi da Amazônia, a sawmill company in the Amazon. While USFloors denies any knowledge of slave labor, its spokespeople confirmed that timber from Tradelink was sold to Lowe's. When the Brazilian Labor Ministry investigated the Bonardi worksite, they found "degrading accommodation and hygiene conditions" and charged the company for the crime of slave labor.
Tell Walmart and Lowe's: Remove slave labor from your supply chains and ban all transactions with companies that use slave labor.
Walmart is a signatory of the Brazilian Pact to Eradicate Slave Labor, an initiative created by industry stakeholders to curb the practice. However, the investigation by Repórter Brasil indicates a connection between Brazilian Walmart stores and suppliers that used slave labor.
Up till 2016, Madeireira Iller, a wood processing company, supplied timber to Tramontina -- a large manufacturer that provides many products for Brazilian Walmart stores. In 2012 the Brazilian Labor Ministry rescued 31 workers from a Madeireira worksite in Santarém, Pará. The Madeireira workers lived in substandard conditions without adequate food, shelter or water, or even protective equipment for their high-risk work. When the government inspectors arrived, supervisors ordered them to hide -- and so they spent five days concealing themselves in the forest before being discovered.
In the past, we've pushed companies like LG and Procter & Gamble to enforce labor protections and remove slave labor from their supply chains. It's time to deploy people power once again. Let's send a message to Lowe's and Walmart: modern slavery is inexcusable.
Walmart and Lowe's: Remove slave labor from your supply chains and ban all transactions with companies that use slave labor.