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12 Nov 2019

Australia: Coles' union alliance to address worker exploitation & safety met with criticism; Includes company comments

In July 2019, Coles formed an alliance with the Transport Workers' Union, the Australian Workers' Union and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, to address worker exploitation and risks to safety in their fresh food supply chain.

In November 2019, it was announced that the alliance had developed the 'Coles Ethical Retail Supply Chain Accord', which aims to protect the rights of workers in the supply chain. The Accord involves representatives from each organisation meeting to discuss complaints from workers, education and training, and investment into research on the social and economic benefits of ethical sourcing.

However, shareholder group The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), who in September filed a shareholder resolution to push Coles towards embedding union voices within its supply chain, argue that this agreement fails to address Coles' reliance on third-party audits, and does not cover the immediate risks illegal workers face across Coles' suppliers. It is also argues that the Accord fails to meet the threshold for worker-driven social responsibility.