15 May 2007 | Gareth Mytton
High-street retailer Waitrose has issued 300 of its suppliers with advice on how to improve labour standards.
The manual aims to provide managers at production sites with guidance on what the supermarket calls "Responsible Sourcing".
It tackles issues including child labour; health, safety and hygiene; discipline; freedom of association and staff representation; hours; wages; and the environment.
The Responsible Sourcing Supplier Workbook opens each section with an explanation of the issue, before covering which parts of the overall John Lewis Partnership code apply; bullet points on the facts of the issue and why suppliers should tackle it. There is also a checklist of what suppliers and, where applicable, their suppliers as well, need to do.
Each section features case studies, ranging from working with contractors in India to improving conditions for homeworkers, to tackling sexual harassment on farms in Zimbabwe and the (part-time) employment of schoolchildren by a UK salad supplier.
Waitrose is a founder member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), which enables suppliers to share information on workplace practices at any organisation they trade with. The retailer's suppliers fill in a self-assessment once a year, and are also subject to random inspections.