Retailers sign protocol to stamp out exploitation

26 March 2010

26 March 2010 | Allie Anderson

Major UK supermarkets have signed a code of practice aimed at eradicating exploitation of workers in the supply chain.

Asda, Marks & Spencer and Tesco are among retailers to sign up to the protocol initiated by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the body that regulates suppliers to the food and agricultural industries.

The code sets out how supermarkets and vendors can ensure the treatment of workers meets GLA licensing standards, as well as how suspected breaches and cases of exploitation should be reported and dealt with.

“Much has been achieved in recent years in protecting workers from abuse in the UK food industry,” said GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse. “But problems still exist.”

He said the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into the meat industry highlighted some of the challenges that remain.

“This protocol shows that everybody in the industry is determined to make sure workers are treated fairly and legitimate businesses are not undercut by rogues,” Whitehouse added.

Other big names to commit to the scheme include the Co-operative, Iceland, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the National Farmers Union and the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC).

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the FPC, welcomed the protocol, which he said “recognises the importance of equal partnership between retailers and their suppliers to maximise the protection of vulnerable workers”.

“The GLA has made great strides by working with the supply chain to bring rogue gangmasters to book and eliminate labour abuse across the fresh produce industry,” he added.

The protocol, which will be reviewed annually, was agreed following consultation with big brands in the UK food industry last year.

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