Supermarket supply chains and workers in the developing world

Yesterday in the European Parliament, I hosted a major event bringing together supermarkets, NGOs such as Oxfam, Fair Trade organisations, consumers organisations, MEPs, representatives from the Commission and trade unionists, both from Europe and Latin America.

We discussed the impact of supermarket dominance and their supply chains on workers in the developing world and how the abuse of the supermarkets’ dominant market position is leading to downward pressure on prices and on workers’ conditions and basis human rights.

We heard first-hand from Gilberto Bermudez from the Costa Rican trade union SITRAP of the appalling anti-union practices workers on the banana and pineapple plantations in Costa Rica suffer from, and I think his testimony opened a few eyes in the room.

It really is up to the supermarkets to ensure their suppliers in the developing world are respecting at the very least basic human rights, including, freedom of association, and an appropriate living wage for their workers – otherwise we will have to take action to address the market dominance enjoyed by Europe’s largest supermarkets, and consumers also have an important role to play in changing their behaviour.

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