Tale has no festive cheer

18 December 2008

LORES_Steve_bagshaw By Steve Bagshaw

One CIPS member has written to me with a decidedly non-festive tale. For reasons you’ll understand he wishes to remain anonymous. But his case gives a good insight into conditions for some suppliers and their staff.

“I’m a permanent employee required to work a four-day week in December and probably January too,” he writes. “I’m to receive a 20 per cent salary deduction due to falling sales and revenues within our business.” This is a company that supplies some high-profile firms, some of whom make quite a song and dance about their CSR.

And there is more. “The boss made it very plain that if anybody tries to enforce their employment rights they would be sacked,” he continues.

Not good and quite possibly illegal. Now let’s imagine the supplier is in Brno or Bangalore. There would be vociferous calls to enforce corporate responsibility, a demand for audits and guarantees sought that this practice would be brought to an end. And even if the customers claimed ignorance of its supplier’s conduct, they would still face public criticism.

As you may have gathered the supplier is in fact in the UK. If its customers do know what is going on they may insist on improvements. Alternatively, they may conclude that (UK) vendors’ HR issues are a peripheral consideration or perhaps of no interest at all.

My point? There’s no shortage of complaints about the conduct of overseas suppliers but by focusing solely on those we face the danger of ignoring similar abuses much closer to home.

As our correspondent concludes: “I do think it is right that SM readers should be aware of how some CIPS members are treated by their own employers.”

A slightly sour note on which to end the year but the Supply Management team wish all readers as much fun as they can bear over Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The next edition of  SM will be published on 8 January.

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