In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries website which stated that the company manufactured products for the armaments industry. This included armoured vehicles and tanks, naval ships, fighter planes and guided weapons systems.

The company lost a whole mark under Arms and Military Supply.

Reference:

www.mhi.com (1 April 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer received a questionnaire response from Princes which contained information regarding the company's Supply Chain Management policies. It also provided a link to the company's Ethical Trading Policy dated August 2018.

[Supply chain policy - reasonable]
The Ethical Trading Policy contained adequate clauses on forced labour, child labour, discrimination and freedom of association. It stated that all suppliers must pay a minimum wage but did not state a living wage. It stated that working hours must not be excessive but did not specify that this meant a limit of 48 normal working hours + 12 hours over time per week. It did state "We expect all our suppliers to have ethical processes in place throughout their supply chain" which was considered to be whole supply chain commitment. Overall Princes was considered to have a reasonable supply chain policy.

[Stakeholder engagement - rudimentary]

The company was a member of a multi-stakeholder process the Ethical Trading Initiative.
The company stated in its questionnaire "Princes recognise the benefit in collaborating with NGOs, charities, trade union organisations, customers and our competitors to drive meaningful change and address some of the root cause issues of large and complex modern slavery incidences." This was not considered to amount to systematic input into the verification of labour standard audits. However, the questionnaire did contain information on the company's ongoing strategy to further involve multi-stakeholder initiatives, NGOs, governments and trade unions which was considered a positive aim.
The company provided no evidence that the suppliers' workers could on a regular basis provide anonymous feedback to the company on working conditions at no cost and in their first language.

[Auditing and reporting - poor]

The company did have an auditing system. It stated that "Via our Ethical Trade Policy, we communicate to all of our suppliers that Princes may conduct risk assessment onsite evaluations of suppliers including requiring independent ethical audits to be undertaken at appropriate intervals". This was not considered a commitment to audit the company's entire supply chain. THe company stated "We are prepared to share and disclose the results of ethical audits with relevant stakeholders to drive improvements throughout the supply chain" but did not publicly disclose any audit results nor a clear audit schedule. The company did state that it had a staged remediation approach to addressing any issues found within its supply chain. It stated that costs of audits were born by the suppliers. The company was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.

[Difficult issues - rudimentary]

The company stated that it had an ongoing training programme for purchasers in relation to modern slavery, human rights and workers rights in the supply chain and provided full details of this.

No other difficult issues were addressed.

Overall Princes received Ethical Consumer's middle Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

Questionnaire Response March 2019 (12 March 2019)

In March 2019, Ethical Consumer searched the website of Mitsubish Electric for its policy on the sourcing of conflict minerals.

The company stated "The Mitsubishi Electric Group views such issues as environmental destruction and the abuse of human rights by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighboring countries as issues of the utmost concern. As transactions of conflict minerals* are said to fund these armed groups, we are implementing measures to ensure the transparency of our supply chain so that we do not encourage or become complicit in such issues in any way, and to promote responsible mineral procurement."

In order to get above a worst rating Ethical Consumer expected to see companies commit to conflict-free sourcing, to continue to source from the DRC and to ongoing due diligence. Ethical Consumer did not deem Mitsubishi Electric to have met the first two requirements.

Ethical Consumer also expects that a company demonstrates its committment through membership of a multi-stakeholder initiative. Mitsubishi Electric was a member of JEITA.

Overall, the company was awarded Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its conflict minerals' policy due to not meeting the minimum requirements for its policy and lost a whole mark under Human Rights and a whole mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

www.mitsubishielectric.com/company/environment/index.html (12 May 2017)

In February 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the corporate family tree of Mitsubishi Corporation at https://www.mitsubishicorp.com/jp/en/about/global/
It indicated that the company had numerous subsidiaries located in countires considered by Ethical Consumer to be oppressive regimes. These were Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Mitsubishi Corporation lost a wholemark under Human Rights

Reference:

https://www.mitsubishicorp.com/jp/en/about/global/ (February 2020)

In February 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the locatione of Mitsubishi Electric on https://www.mitsubishielectric.com/en/about/locations/index.page
It indicated that the company had operations in Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia, India and the Phillipines. At the time of writing Ethical Consumer considered these countries to be oppressive regimes.

Mitsubishi Electric lost a mark under Human Rights.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

An article in the Guardian on 12th January 2018 claimed that the British food company, Princes, had become the latest firm linked with an investigation into labour abuses involving migrant workers who pick tomatoes in southern Italy for British and European consumers.

It was alleged that Princes Industrie Alimentari, owned by Princes, bought tomatoes from a supplier, De Rubertis, whose workers were described in October 2017 by Italian prosecutor Paola Guglielmi as labouring under “conditions of absolute exploitation”.

The comments were made in the course of an investigation into the death of a seasonal labourer, Abdullah Muhammed. The 47-year-old legal Sudanese immigrant suffered a heart attack while working in the fields of Nardó, in southern Italy, in July 2015. The allegation against the supplier was that Muhammed’s life could have been saved if he had been allowed to go to hospital.

Labour abuses listed in the court documents included working for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, without breaks, with minimal pay and no access to medical staff.

Princes,was the main UK distributor of tomatoes and supplied products to France and Germany under different brand names.

In a statement to the Guardian, Princes said its own audits of the supplier farm in 2016 and 2017 “did not reveal any evidence of illegality”.

“We hold human rights in the highest regard and oppose any form of forced or illegal labour. PIA [Princes Industrie Alimentari SrL] is a strictly compliant organisation and proactive in ensuring our supply chain complies with Italian legislation and our own ethical standards. We can confirm that since 2016 we have sourced tomatoes from [the supplier] and that our own due diligence measures have not found any evidence of illegality,” the statement said.

After an earlier article in the Guardian about the investigation by the Italian prosecutor, the three biggest Italian labour unions responded in a joint press release: “The attacks by certain press outlets against the ethics of the Italian food chain, particularly against a sector of excellence like the tomato sector, are unjustified and spurious.”

Reference:

Food firm Princes linked to inquiry into worker abuses in Italy's tomato fields (12 January 2018)

In November 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Business and Human Rights Resources website titled, 'Brazil/UK: JBS supplied beef to UK retailers from Brazilian farm being investigated for forced labour; comments from Waitrose, NHS, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Princes', and dated June 2017. The report stated:

'an investigation by the Guardian...and Repórter Brasil show[e]... that JBS, one of the world's largest meat processing companies, previously purchased cattle from a farm under federal investigation for using workers as modern-day slaves. JBS says it ceased buying from the farm on discovering the alleged link to labour abuses...Its produce is used in tinned corned beef sold by major retailers including Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Sainsbury's, Lidl and Princes....

In... June 2016,...police officers discovered men forced to live in inhumane and degrading conditions, with no shelter and no toilets or drinking water...[W]orkers were in debt bondage, with payments for food and protective equipment illegally deducted from their wages. The farm owner, Antônio José Junqueira Vilela Filho, had previously been fined...for deforesti[on]... '

The company lost half a mark in the Workers' Rights category.

Reference:

Brazil/UK: JBS supplied beef to UK retailers from Brazilian farm being investigated for forced labou

In August 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre website, titled "Japan: Workers work up to or beyond "karoshi line" in most Japanese manufacturers" and dated to February 2017.

The report stated: "An umbrella organisations of labour unions in the manufacturing industries has published a study showing that the agreements between management and the labour unions of manjor manufacturers all allow for overtime at least up to the officialy recognised "karoshi line" of 80 hours overtime per month, and many provide for overtime far beyond that limit.... Mitsubishi Electrics [allows] 105."

Japanese law was said to cap overtime at 45 hours per month, except where a labour agreement had been made permitting overtime beyond this threshold.

The company lost half a mark under Workers' Rights for allowing excessive overtime in its factories.

Reference:

Japan: Workers work up to or beyond "karoshi line" in most Japanese manufacturers (February 2017)