Protesters call for supermarket watchdog

5 October 2009

06 October 2009 | Jake Kanter

Campaigners are holding a demonstration in the UK capital today to pressure the government into introducing a regulator to oversee supermarket supplier relationships.

Demonstrators from workers' rights organisation War on Want and charity Action Aid plan to dress up as "supermarket bigwigs" and gagged and bound farmers and protest outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to force the government into a decision.

It follows the Competition Commission's (CC) recommendation in August that the government establish a supplier ombudsman for supermarkets with a turnover of more than £1 billion (Web news, 5 August). BIS had 90 days to respond to the CC's recommendation made on 4 August.

Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury's have consistently opposed the plans, although some retailers, such as Waitrose, welcome a watchdog.

Dominic Eagleton, policy officer at Action Aid, told SM: "Supermarkets have been found guilty of abusing their suppliers in the UK and overseas. The ombudsman is a sensible solution and the question is, will Lord Mandelson side with the farmers or cave in to the supermarkets?"

The pressure is on for the government to make a decision, added Simon McRae, senior campaigner at War on Want.

Commenting on the protest, BIS said: "We are happy to receive evidence from all interested parties as we evaluate the wider costs and benefits of the Competition Commission's recommendation."

SMoct2009

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