Memorandum submitted by Tesco plc (V17)
As the UK's largest supermarket, Tesco is the
biggest customer of UK agriculture, working with a large number
of suppliers in the UK and overseas. We place great emphasis on
working in partnership with suppliers to meet our customers' expectations.
Part of that approach is to ensure that all
Tesco suppliers extend fair and honest practices to their employees
and to all with whom they do business. We believe firmly in an
open dialogue with all our suppliers and hold regular Producer
Club meetings, attended by Tesco buyers and suppliers, which provide
a Forum to discuss a whole range of issues. We also follow the
DTI Code of Conduct regulating trading relationships between supermarkets
and their suppliers.
We have been aware of the specific issues around
`gangmasters' for some time and have been actively involved in
addressing them, in a number of ways:
We insist that our suppliers directly
check the legitimacy of the labour they use, rather than merely
relying on checks made by the agencies they employ.
We have held a supplier conference
on labour issues, which also addressed the specific issue of "gangmasters"
We are currently rolling out a training
course for all our buyers called "Supply with your eyes open"
which covers all the key ethical issues, going into considerable
detail on "gangmaster" issues.
Tesco technologists raise the issue
of labour on all technical visits to suppliers.
Although formal audits do not currently
cover this issue, we plan to roll out ethical auditing across
the entire Tesco supplier base.
We are working closely with the Department
of Work and Pensions' Agricultural Investigation Unit, to help
them with their raids, and to increase the effectiveness of their
visits on the supplier base.
We are also members of the Ethical
Trading Initiative working party looking at the possibility of
introducing "Gangmaster registration", which may be
a way forward.
I hope this is useful. Please do not hesitate
to contact me if you need any further information, or would like
to discuss any of the points I have raised above.
4 June 2003