US - Third-party auditors are evaluating workplace conditions as part of a new social compliance programme started by Tyson Foods, Inc.
Processing plants for large poultry companies in the US have been criticised in recent months by organisations such as Oxfam about how they treat their workers.
The programme, along with a new workplace safety initiative, highlight the fifth and final segment of Tyson Foods’ latest sustainability report.
The segment, titled Workforce and Culture, outlines the 2015 launch of a social compliance programme designed to assess working conditions and social responsibility in the company’s plants.
It involves an internal oversight committee and an outside auditing firm that evaluate plant performance in such areas as worker treatment, worker voice, compensation, safety and environmental management.
The auditor typically spends several days at a plant reviewing employment records and interviewing dozens of randomly selected workers. The audit results, which reflect how a plant is performing and where it needs improvement, are shared with plant and corporate management and may also be provided to customers.
“We believe we’re a caring, responsible company but also know we must strive to be better in all we do,” said Joe Lloyd, vice president of ethics and compliance for Tyson Foods.
“This new programme enhances our social compliance efforts and is intended to help us be more transparent with our customers about our working conditions.”
The last segment of the sustainability report also describes a new worker safety initiative Tyson Foods launched in 2015.
It includes the creation of an executive safety council and a pilot project designed to improve plant safety communications, awareness and practices. The pilot project initially involved nine locations but was recently expanded to 19 and may include more plants by early summer.
During fiscal 2015, Tyson said it reduced its injury and illness rate by 12 per cent compared to fiscal 2013, the time frame covered in the company’s last sustainability report.
Other topics covered in the Workforce and Culture segment include human rights and labour relations, hiring, compensation and benefits, and diversity and development.
The segment also provides more transparency about Tyson Foods’ workforce. The company reports that in fiscal 2015, its retention rate for all team members was 72 per cent and that more than half of current Team Members have been with the company for five years or more. Females represented nearly 39 per cent of the workforce.
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