Australia: Supermarkets Coles & Woolworths pressured over alleged exploitation in labour supply chains

Author: Mahalia Dobson & Rhiannon Tuffield, ABC, Published on: 6 May 2019

"Coles and Woolworths urged to boycott suppliers linked to the exploitation of migrant workers", 3 May 2019

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are facing pressure to boycott suppliers linked to the exploitation of migrant workers, amid a desperate push to address ongoing issues within the labour hire industry.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR)...director of workers' rights, Katie Hepworth, said there were concerns the supermarkets were continuing trade with labour hire providers found to have violated Fair Work laws.

...The ACCR has named Brisbane-based company Agri Labour Australia as one of several companies linked to claims of underpayment and poor working conditions.

...Agri Labour managing director Casey Brown said the ACCR's campaign was pressuring the supermarkets to adopt "union friendly" labour supply chain obligations.

..."Agri Labour Australia categorically rejects any allegation that it exploited migrant workers," Mr Casey said.

...Woolworths said it has...introduced "targeted requirements that mean only certified labour providers can participate in [their] horticulture supply chain."

"These requirements, which will continue to roll out over coming months, will be backed up by a consistent program of due diligence, verification, and capacity building with our suppliers."

...Coles said all supplier sites were required to register on the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) and complete a risk assessment.

"As a result of the risk assessment, suppliers are rated as low, medium or high risk, with medium and high-risk sites required to be audited by an independent external provider.

"Coles also undertakes its own audits to confirm risk assessments, randomly check audit outcomes and respond to specific issues," a spokesperson said.

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Related companies: Agri Labour Australia Coles Group Woolworths Group Australia