Memorandum submitted by Asda Stores Ltd
What checks ASDA carry out to ensure that
temporary labour used by our suppliers is provided by those operating
within the law?
1. ASDA Stores Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Asda operates 260 supermarkets throughout
GB and 19 depots. We employ over 120,000 colleagues.
2. In line with all other elements of our
business, ASDA strives constantly to improve and refine its systems
in line with our purpose: "to make goods and services more
affordable to everyone". Our relationship with our agriculture
and horticulture suppliers, as with all suppliers, is based on
intimate knowledge, openness and, as a result, trust. We manage
this by conducting written audits, with responses being risk assessed
by independent inspection companies and, as a result, a programme
of visits is then drawn up. We last conducted a full survey of
our horticulture suppliers, in November 2002; the one prior to
that had been conducted in 2000.
3. As we discussed on the telephone, I enclose
in confidence, for the committee's eyes only, a copy of the latest
questionnaire that ASDA asked its horticulture suppliers and all
pack sites (some two dozen in total in the UK) to complete last
November. The returns were risk assessed by independent inspection
companies, paid by ASDA. On the basis of this assessment, a revised
programme of visits to supplying businesses was drawn up, with
highest priority given to those businesses needing most support,
according to the nature, size and type of business.
4. ASDA does not itself conduct physical
checks of the agencies (gangmasters) retained by our suppliers.
Our expectation is that suppliers use reputable agencies.
5. ASDA suppliers co-operate fully with
inspections by Government agencies. From anecdote, this is at
an approximate frequency for a business of one per annum by Inland
Revenue; one per annum by Customs and Excise; one spot check every
two years by Immigration and three per annum by local Agriculture
Compliance Teams of DSS. If it appears that foreign labour is
used, form SAL2 is faxed to the Immigration Office for them to
cross-check status, which settles the matter. We believe the Government
inspection system generally works well, although it's not clear
to us what level of information exchange takes place between them
if one agency finds an irregularity with a particular gangmaster,
6. ASDA fosters open relationships with
its suppliers and encourages problems to be flagged so they can
be resolved quickly and effectively. As a result, we believe that
any supplier discovering that one of its agencies had used temporary
labour operating in any way outside the law would redress the
matter at once and tell us of the steps they had taken.
Asda Stores Ltd
4 June 2003