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Protecting workers’ rights in global food supply chains

Giles Bolton
Giles Bolton
Responsible Sourcing Director

Respecting and advancing human rights is a key principle for our business. It’s both the right thing to do, and it strengthens resilience and competitiveness, whether in our own operations or in our supply chains.

While we work hard to avoid them, breaches of our standards do sometimes take place. Some are fairly straightforward to remedy, in particular issues of health and safety. But others can be systemic to the sector or country and addressing them requires an understanding of the root causes, a commitment to deepening transparency and close collaboration with key stakeholders including trade unions.

In recognition of this, we are proud to announce our strategic partnership with the global federation of trade unions, IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers Association).

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IUF is a shared recognition of the challenges faced by workers in global food supply chains, including workers exercising their rights to be in a trade union and to negotiate collectively.

The joint commitment outlines how Tesco and IUF can work together to support workers’ rights globally, with a specific focus on how women in global food supply chains can benefit from effective grievance mechanisms, freedom of association and trade union representation. It builds on our own strong relationship with USDAW, the primary union partner in our UK retail business. Through the partnership we aim to:

  • Work collaboratively to support workers to access effective representation.
  • Jointly create a process for incident reporting that allows for effective resolution of identified issues.
  • Identify opportunities to reduce women workers’ vulnerability and increase women’s voices and representation in the workplace.

Our partnership with IUF is demonstration of our commitment to protect workers’ rights and we look forward to working effectively with them on improving workplace relations so that workers feel safe, are empowered to raise issues and are confident their rights are protected.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerabilities of global supply chains and also the vulnerabilities of people working in those supply chains, especially women workers. This agreement gives us a great opportunity to begin addressing those vulnerabilities now. Trade union rights, a safe and healthy workplace, equality for all: these are fundamental to decent work and sustainable supply chains. We welcome the opportunity to work with Tesco to support workers’ rights globally and in particular to focus on women workers in global food supply chains.”

--Sue Longley, General Secretary, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)

“Workers remain at the heart of so many global supply chains and it is therefore in the interest of business to collaborate with workers’ representatives to ensure that international standards are met and that promises to consumers are kept. We recognise and applaud this new agreement between Tesco and the Global Union Federation, IUF to work together on key areas that will benefit workers and business alike.”

--Peter McAllister, Executive Director, Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

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