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ActionAid says UK supermarkets' purchasing practices keep women workers in poverty & harmful working conditions

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Company non-response
25 April 2007

ASDA (part of Walmart) did not respond to: ActionAid says women working for suppliers to UK supermarkets, including Asda, locked into dangerous conditions, "appallingly" low pay.

23 April 2007

6p a T-shirt. 30p an hour for shelling cashews. Supermarkets accused of exploiting women

Author: Terry Macalister, Guardian [UK]

An independent watchdog should be set up to ensure supermarkets do not drive their profits higher on the back of vulnerable workers in developing countries while presenting themselves as socially responsible companies at home, [an ActionAid report entitled ‘Who Pays’] demands…It claims that supermarkets…are locking suppliers - particularly women - into "appallingly" low pay and dangerous conditions abroad…A spokeswoman for Tesco [said] "Its no secret that conditions in developing countries can be difficult. But [we believe]...that trade is the best route out of poverty...We are ready to listen to any ideas for making progress”…Neither Asda nor Sainsbury returned calls asking for comment... [Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Asda to respond to the allegations but it declined to respond]

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Company response
23 April 2007

Sainsbury’s response to ActionAid report “Who Pays? How British supermarkets are keeping women workers in poverty”

Author: Sainsbury's

We are aware of a number of issues related to labour in the banana industry in Costa Rica and have invested considerable resources into addressing them...

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23 April 2007

[PDF] full report: "Who Pays? How British Supermarkets are Keeping Women Workers in Poverty"

Author: ActionAid

In this report, we will see how British supermarkets’ [such as Asda (part of Wal-Mart), Tesco, Sainsbury] buying practices reinforce a cycle of low wages, insecurity and poverty by putting pressure on suppliers to cut costs and produce at shorter notice. [with case studies on bananas from Costa-Rica, clothing from Bangladesh, cashew nuts from India]

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