Amazon-owned Whole Foods is coming under fire for the “oppressive” conditions that workers endure at farms that supply the grocery chain.
“Whole Foods says its mission is to “nourish people and the planet,” but workers at farms that supply the high-end organic grocery empire are often overworked and poorly treated, an investigation by Oxfam found.
Workers on sweet potato farms in North Carolina that supply Amazon’s Whole Foods reportedly put in 14 hours days in ‘oppressive heat with few rest breaks’ and often with ‘very limited access to toilets,’ according to the report.
Though the farm workers are not Amazon employees, the allegations come just weeks after Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos came under fire for cutting medical benefits for almost 2,000 part-time workers at stores across America.
Whole Foods Market said it had initiated discussions with suppliers named in the report and have already begun work to schedule farm visits with third-party auditors, But the company takes issue with the findings, stating that Oxfam chose to ‘selectively publish the information we provided on our business practices’ in response to their report, and that it chose not to initially share any level of detail on the allegations made against specific farms . . .
Oxfam interviewed workers on farms and plantations in the United States, India and Brazil used by many of the big grocery chains. It found poverty pay, harsh working conditions, and gender discrimination commonplace on the farms and plantations that supply tea, fruit and vegetables to the world’s supermarkets.
Oxfam said: ‘In North East Brazil, researchers found evidence of poverty among harvest workers on grape, melon and mango farms. Farmhands also reported developing allergies and serious skin diseases as a result of working with pesticides and other chemicals without adequate protection. The farms supply Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Whole Foods.'”
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