This year Princes Tuna Mauritius marks its ten year anniversary of certification to the highest social accountability standard (SA8000). Located in Port Louis, the Princes tuna canning facility employs just over 2000 workers and has the lowest absentee rate in Mauritius.
The cannery produces around 800,000 cans of tuna per day and approximately 70 percent of its exports go to the United Kingdom. The remaining 30 percent is shipped to elsewhere in Europe.
Certified with SA8000 since 2003, a Princes representative stressed the labor-intensive process of raw material being washed, cleaned and cut before it is canned by hand by its employees.
The spokesperson explained that there have been several practical benefits in having a socially responsible certification, including an absentee rate of less than 6 percent. They say that by giving people a reason to want to go to work and a safe environment to work in, it enhances the productiveness of staff and the company.
Challenges faced by the standard were also highlighted, one being the restrictions on working hours: "As a facility with a large segment of expatriate workers, you're attracting the people who want to work more than 60 hours. Many workers request more overtime, and specifically want to work more than 75, 80 hours a week, and we have to explain to them why we cannot simply have unlimited overtime."
Around one third of Princes' workforce comes from Bangladesh, Indian and Nepal and over 18 languages are spoken in the cannery. "We have a Welfare Officer who speaks many different dialects, and ensure that key documents are printed in Hindu, as it's the most common language that is spoken," explained the representative.
The company emphasized that over the last decade its efforts have not only been focused towards sustaining its SA8000 certification, but continual improved social performance has been important also. Princes stressed that it displays that social accountability does not have to be "sold at a premium."