Tesco Face More Pressure Over Ethical Trading & Suppliers

The issue of ethical trading and treatment of suppliers by Tesco will be forced on to the agenda at the retailer’s annual meeting after a small shareholder combined enough support from other investors .
Ben Birnberg, a retired solicitor currently working for lobby group War On Want, has letters of support from the 100 shareholders he needs so that action can be taken against Tesco to adopt a higher standards in its dealings with suppliers and farmers from low-wage countries.
Last December the UK’s leading supermarket chain and other UK firms strongly denied accusations made by the lobby group, that workers in Bangladesh were being exploited by their suppliers.
Mr Birnberg is calling for independent auditors to be appointed to ensure that workers in its supplier factories and farms are guaranteed “decent working conditions, a living wage, job security” and the right to join a trade union of their choice where available.
He said his initial proposal to Tesco had been rejected, so he gathered the support of more than 100 shareholders, including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust .
Tesco commented, “We will give full consideration to any submission he or any other shareholder might make. Fair treatment of workers in our supply chain is extremely important to us.”
The motion acknowledges that Tesco says it provides a “market-leading package of pay and benefits”, that its core values include “treating our partners as we like to be treated” and seeking “to uphold labour standards in the supply chain” .
However it also suggests that Tesco’s third party audits have failed to register unacceptable working conditions that disregard its values.
The campaign by Mr Birnberg was prompted last year by a report from War on Want into the conditions for workers producing clothing for Primark, Asda and Tesco.
The report alleged that textile workers in Bangladesh were paid as little as five pence an hour to make cheap clothes for the three retail companies .

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