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Sunday, September 25, 2016
Agency makes Littlewoods a special offer
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¬†High street retailer Littlewoods is being offered free help checking whether its suppliers in the third world are meeting internationally recognised labour standards. Christian Aid has written to Alistair McGeorge, Littlewoods' Chief Executive, proposing that one its ethical trade experts is made available to the company next time it audits one of its supply chains. In January Littlewoods left the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, NGOs and trade unions that have agreed to enforce a voluntary code on labour standards. It also disbanded its ethical trading team - causing some redundancies. "Littlewoods is saying it remains committed to its ethical trade policy even though it has left the ETI and no longer has a team of experts visiting factories in developing countries," said Sharon McClenaghan, Christian Aid's senior policy officer working on ethical trade. "We're not sure how the company now plans to audit its suppliers to make sure they're not exploiting employees or using children in their factories but we're keen to offer them some support." One of the reasons Littlewoods has given for leaving the ETI is that the membership fee - around £25,000 for companies - is not good value for money. Shadowing of supply chain audits is one of the services companies are offered free as members. "We'd like Littlewoods to reconsider its decision to leave the ETI, but in the meantime, we're happy to offer them a member of Christian Aid's staff, free of charge, to shadow their next visit to a factory to check on labour standards," said Dr McClenaghan. "Had they remained in the ETI, we would have been happy to do this anyway, so let's call it a special offer to Littlewoods in the hope that the company renews its membership."
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