Evidence of UK supermarkets' exploitation of overseas workers, including garment workers, flower workers and tea pickers has been uncovered over many years.
Supermarkets have used their buyer power to squeeze suppliers and drive down pay and working conditions around the world. This means the people that make the clothes and grow the food sold in UK supermarkets are often poorly paid, overworked, work in unsafe conditions and are discouraged from joining trade unions.
Following the failure of a 10 year old voluntary code, the Competition Commission recommended that the government should create an independent watchdog (now called the Groceries Code Adjudicator) to redress the balance of power and ensure that supermarkets stop bullying their suppliers. The watchdog will oversee and enforce the Code of Practice that governs the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers, in order to stop unfair practices.
In the run-up to the 2010 general election, all the major political parties committed to creating a watchdog - testament to sustained campaigning by a broad coalition led by War on Want and others in the Tescopoly alliance. However, since the election the coalition government has dragged its feet as big supermarkets relentlessly lobbied them to prevent a watchdog being set up.
The government has published a draft Bill which lays out the powers this watchdog (called the Groceries Code Adjudicator) will have. The fight is now on to make sure the watchdog can really deal with the huge problems in the supermarkets' supply chains.
It is vital that we keep up the pressure on the government to create a watchdog with real teeth, as supermarkets will continue to lobby MPs and ministers to make it as weak and ineffective as possible.
Write to your MP now via War on Want's supermarket watchdog campaign. Remind them just how important a strong, independent and proactive watchdog is to suppliers in the UK and overseas. Demand the government introduces a supermarket watchdog with teeth.
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