18 December, 2014British trade union, Community, has signed a groundbreaking agreement with retailer Tesco to improve conditions in its UK garment supply chain.
The partnership between IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Community, and Tesco, the world’s third largest retailer, comes off the back of serious concerns about the treatment of workers in the UK garment sector.
It includes cases of under payment and non-payment of the minimum wage, excessive working hours, fraudulent declaration of earnings, worker abuse, illegal deductions from earnings and unauthorized sub-contracting.
The new agreement will see Community and Tesco working in partnership to end these ongoing abuses in the company’s supply chain.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
"We believe that Tesco are genuinely committed to ethical trade and improving conditions in its UK garment supply chain. That's why we have developed this groundbreaking agreement that will use the skills and expertise of both our organizations to ensure that happens. The aim is to make the UK garment sector sustainable in the long term and a world-class manufacturing hub once again."
The agreement will establish a model for Tesco’s UK garment suppliers to benchmark standards and a new chapter of cooperation between the retailer and Community.
What the agreement will do:
• Tesco and Community will collaborate to undertake tailored multi-stakeholder ethical audits of Tesco’s UK garment supply base, designed specifically around the issues prevalent within the UK/Leicester garment sector.
• Tesco will provide ethical trade audit experts for these audits, either internal or independent. Community will also actively participate in the audits, leading some areas and ensuring workers have access to representation.
• The audit process is intended to result in improved representation for workers, a clear assessment for Tesco of conditions in their supply chain - and confidence for all parties that any concerns identified have been addressed and resolved.
• In addition Tesco and Community will explore opportunities to work together to provide active support to Tesco’s suppliers in areas such as Health and Safety, which can provide direct benefits both for workers and for the sustainability of suppliers’ operations.
• In recognition that some suppliers may already have recognized unions in place, the partners will work within the boundaries of existing relationships.