Campaign for a Supermarket Watchdog
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. We wouldn’t accept this situation in the UK, so why should they?
After War on Want and other campaigners exposed the way supermarkets were using their power to bully their suppliers, the Competition Commission investigated and found that the voluntary code that supermarkets had put in place had failed. In its 2008 report it found that supermarkets passed ‘excessive risks and unexpected costs’ onto their suppliers, through forcing them to accept unfair terms of conditions. The report recommended setting up a new code of practice that governs supermarkets relationships with their suppliers and called for a new watchdog to stop unfair practices.
In 2012 the government finally responded to campaigners demand to introduce a watchdog, introducing a bill into parliament to establish a Groceries Code Adjudicator to oversee the new code of practice. This was a huge success for supermarket campaigners, both in getting government proposals into parliament and getting key measures included, like making sure trade unions can bring complaints, not just supplier bosses.
In 2013 we won the campaign! The government introduced a Groceries Code Adjudicator, and bowed to public pressure by giving the watchdog the power to fine supermarkets.
Thousands of people have signed petitions, spoken to their MPs and engaged thousands more in joining the fight to secure the rights of workers in supermarket supply chains. The supermarkets have resisted the introduction of a powerful watchdog every step of the way and without constant pressure from the public we would never have reached this stage.
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