Supermarkets urged to insist on good labour standards for migrant workers

Britain’s biggest supermarkets must do more to insist upon good labour standards for migrant workers in their supply chains. This was a key message in the report, Vulnerable Migrant Workers: The Responsibility of Business, launched in London last week by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR). The Church-based investor coalition found evidence of exploitation of migrant workers in the supply chains of Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons, and recommended that all companies should train suppliers on ethical trade and employment issues.

The report compared the policies and practices of nine food production, supermarket and manufacturing companies, all sectors which have a high concentration of low-skilled, flexible migrant labour. Nearly half of migrant workers in UK from Eastern Europe, for example, work in temporary positions and nearly three-quarters earn less than £6 an hour. "Many companies’ profits benefit from the use of flexible labour in the supply chain," said ECCR’s researcher, Sunniva Taylor, "but few appear to have put consideration of labour conditions into the mainstream of their core business practice”. ECCR argues that accepting moral responsibility makes business sense in protecting companies against legal and reputational risk and improving workforce retention and security of supply.
ECCR has produced an investors action guide and a church action guide, available on its website:

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