UK retailer The Co-operative has urged other retail companies to sign the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s protocol, designed to help eliminate modern slavery.
The Co-op is the first business outside of those in the construction industry to sign the protocol, where it first emerged, and is urging others in the retail and supply industries to follow suit.
Urging Companies To Join The Protocol
Speaking about the commitment to ending the 'evil practice' of modern slavery, Andrew Lofty, director of construction at the Co-op said, “I would urge all companies to join us and sign this important protocol which looks to eliminate modern slavery and labour exploitation from supply chains."
Lofty added that since a number of companies engage in different domains, a cross-sector initiative such as this is something companies need to get involved with.
“We work across so many supply chains, not just food, where workers can be exposed to modern slavery.
He mentioned The Co-op's insurance and facilities management branches, saying, "Many of these involve sub-contracted labour and often multiple sub contracts - all with the potential to hide the worst excesses of labour exploitation."
Mark Heath, deputy director of business change at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, welcomed the commitment of Co-op to the protocol.
He commented, "When organisations agree to the protocol, they commit to work in partnership with us to protect vulnerable and exploited workers. They also agree to share information to stop exploitation and pledge to raise awareness of slavery through supply chains.
Growing Trend Of Social Initiatives
The signing of the anti-slavery protocol is the latest in a series of social initiatives. The Co-op previously joined with charity City Hearts in April 2017 to offer the opportunity of a paid work placement and a job afterwards to victims rescued by the charity from modern slavery. The company also launched several other social initiatives such as a food redistribution scheme.
In 2016, the Consumer Goods Forum encouraged firms to fight against modern slavery that could be hidden in global supply chains. Then-Marks & Spencer chief executive, Marc Bolland, and Unilever CEO Paul Polman stated, "As part of our wider efforts to promote human rights and decent working conditions worldwide, we acknowledge the broad societal problem of modern slavery and we strive to eradicate forced labour from our value chains."
At the time, an estimated 21 million people were working in conditions that fall under the International Labour Organization definition of forced labour.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Matthieu Chassain. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.