Friday, 20 October, 2017

Chinese city to penalize firms that newly hire N. Korean workers

Purchasing seafood in some American stores may inadvertently fund North Korean nuclear weapons North Korean Workers Are Reportedly Preparing Seafood For Stores And Restaurants In The United States
Marta Holmes | 07 October, 2017, 00:23

US senators and experts who study North Korea say corporations and the Trump administration should crack down on foreign factories using North Korean laborers to process American seafood.

They receive a fraction of their salaries, while as much as 70 percent is taken directly by Kim's government. The jobs, which are highly sought after by North Korean citizens, can generate an estimated $200 to $500 million a year for the regime. That could account for a sizeable portion of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, which South Korea says have cost more than $US1 billion. The United States now considers all forms of North Korean labor slave labor.

As well as the United States, the AP also tracked products made by North Korean workers to Canada, Germany and elsewhere in the European Union. Those industries also export to the US from Hunchun, but AP did not track specific shipments except for seafood.

Companies are asked to voluntarily send back North Korean workers hired on or after that date, and their failure to do so will be subject to additional penalty charges, the sources said.

It is a federal crime for products made in North Korea to be sold in the United States under sanctions signed by President Donald Trump in August, and companies contacted by the AP have said that using forced labour, or supporting North Korea, is unacceptable in their supply chains.

For now, involved companies are starting their own investigations, while some already closed deals with suppliers, AP said.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, urged its 300 members to "ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator". "The majority work in Russian Federation and China, but Middle Eastern, African, and other European and Asian countries also host North Korean laborers", the report explained.

"Instead of making the goods in North Korea and trying to export them, which wouldn't work because of sanctions regime, you export the North Koreans", said Former Ambassador to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca.

At some factories, laborers worked hunched over tables as North Korean political slogans blasted from loudspeakers.

The AP's investigation adds to a growing saga over some of the appalling conditions workers face in the seafood industry.

On September 12, Beijing ordered no visa extensions and a stricter screening process for new visa issuance for North Korean workers. And it's up to corporations to be responsible for their own supply chains.

Some questionable products include salmon from Walmart or ALDI supermarkets under the brand name "Sea Queen".

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