Tesco clothes abuse warning

30 April 2008 - 1:05pm
Press release

Shoppers are warned that a watchdog report out today will allow supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda to continue to exploit overseas workers who make clothes for high street supermarkets for as little as five pence an hour.

This warning comes from the anti-poverty charity War on Want before the Competition Commission this morning publishes its final report after a two-year inquiry into major UK supermarkets.

The charity welcomes the commission's expected move to recommend a new ombudsman to oversee supermarkets' relationships with their British suppliers.

But, according to War on Want, hundreds of thousands of employees will continue to toil 80-hour weeks for poverty pay unless the government now regulates how supermarkets treat foreign suppliers as well.

Three weeks ago the media reported that Asda had told the commission it wanted overseas suppliers excluded from a new code of conduct.

Last December the charity revealed that workers were still being paid less than half a living wage producing clothes for Asda and Tesco in Bangladesh - a year after War on Want's report Fashion Victims exposed their sweatshops.

It said the £4.6 million in salary and bonuses for Tesco's chief executive Sir Terry Leahy could pay the annual wages of more than 25,000 Bangladeshi garment employees who supply its stores, based on average wages of about £15 a month.

Earlier War on Want contrasted the reported £1.5 million paid to Coleen McLoughlin, fiancée of footballer Wayne Rooney, as a spokesmodel for Asda, with the five pence an hour for workers who made its clothes in Bangladesh.

And on Valentine's Day the charity exposed how supermarkets exploit workers in Kenya and Colombia, paid under half a living wage supplying flowers to UK stores.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "The commission has again found supermarkets guilty of abusing their power over British suppliers.

"We support moves for an industry-funded supermarket ombudsman.

"But supermarkets will carry on exploiting garment workers in developing countries if the government does not take further action to stop them bullying suppliers abroad."


NEWS HOOK: Competition Commission publishes final report after two-year inquiry on supermarkets

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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