Supermarkets today wield unprecedented power on a global scale. From Bangladesh to South Africa, supermarkets dictate the terms at which overseas producers are forced to sell their goods. With threats to find new suppliers, they force prices down around the world
But the workers who produce those goods – from fruit and vegetables to flowers, wine, cheap clothes and tea – feel their devastating impact every day. Working in factories or on plantations, they face long hours, terrible working conditions and little or no trade union rights. Despite working 80 hours a week, many workers are not able to earn a living wage.
The big four supermarkets – ASDA, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – control 75% of the grocery market in the UK and aim to keep their prices low and their profits high. They use their enormous size and influence to put their suppliers under immense pressure to produce goods as cheaply as possible. As well as squeezing their suppliers on price, they dictate terms and agreements, like forcing them to take on costs for discounts and promotions. These pressures then get passed on to the people who grow, pick and pack our food in low wages, long hours and poor working conditions.
To tackle supermarket power War on Want has campaigned for many years for the government to introduce a supermarket watchdog to stop supermarkets bullying their suppliers. After years of successful campaigning the government has now agreed to put forward proposals, and we are now pushing hard to make sure that it has the powers it needs to be effective.
As well as bullying their suppliers, supermarkets are continuing their push to dominate the UK market through opening more and more high street stores. War on Want is proud to be part of the Tescopoly alliance that campaigns against the negative impacts of supermarket power on workers’ rights, local businesses, communities and the environment and supports local campaigns against new supermarket developments.
Supermarkets have used their buyer power to squeeze suppliers and drive down pay and working conditions around the world. This means the people that make the clothes and grow the food sold in UK supermarkets are often poorly paid, overworked, work in unsafe conditions and are discouraged from joining trade unions. We wouldn’t accept this situation in the UK, so why should they?
After War on Want and other campaigners exposed the way supermarkets were using their power to bully their suppliers, the Competition Commission investigated and found that the voluntary code that supermarkets had put in place had failed. In its 2008 report it found that supermarkets passed ‘excessive risks and unexpected costs’ onto their suppliers, through forcing them to accept unfair terms of conditions. The report recommended setting up a new code of practice that governs supermarkets relationships with their suppliers and called for a new watchdog to stop unfair practices.
In 2012 the government finally responded to campaigners demand to introduce a watchdog, introducing a bill into parliament to establish a Groceries Code Adjudicator to oversee the new code of practice. This was a huge success for supermarket campaigners, both in getting government proposals into parliament and getting key measures included, like making sure trade unions can bring complaints, not just supplier bosses.
While the proposals are a huge step forwards, the bill risks setting up a watchdog that won’t be powerful enough to get supermarkets to change their ways, with only the power to ‘name and shame’ supermarkets, not to fine them. We know from our years of campaigning that exposing supermarkets abuses is not enough to make them change – only by affecting their profits by fining them can they be made to change.
Take action now and ask your MP to support a supermarket watchdog that has the power to fine.
Supermarket work at best is dull and monotonous. It is an area where workers are constantly exploited.
It should be noted Lidl have a long history of exploitation, poor working conditions and spying on employees
What follows is a Diary kept by a Lidl worker.
The Diary is in its original form
Name is withheld for fear of victimization
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 09:35
Lidl can feel like that sometimes. I think the whole disillutionment with my job has led me to probably come across at work as a bit heartless and not caring. Probably right somewhat.
A partially sighted old woman approaches. She struggles to reach to the depth on the trolley to pull out the items. The lassie on second till comes out of the office, and helps her pull her trolley to the checkout. Then leaves. So I help her to pack. I can hear the people in the queue behind saying,
“That’s shocking that is he no gonna help her. Terrible that.”
I pay no notice. I help her pack, rush her away, on to the next customer I think being honest without ever saying cheerio. Maybe if the checkout girl had helped me with this, I wouldn’t be so stressed and rushing them out the door.
Queue queue queue
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 09:39
I was also seen by the manager, in passing, as changing my break recieved from 15 to zero when clocking out. He asked me what I was doing, I told him. As I went to the canteen to collect my coat, I seen him and the soon to be also manager smirking.
Well? Why the f*** should I give the money to you. It’s better in my empty empty pocket.
This after being scheduled in for yet another 4hour shift, which means no breaks. Which is bullshit when 4hours & 5 minutes does.
And the fact that we were out half an hour late, as always, I had a break entitlement. Which I didn’t get
Friday, 1 March 2013
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 04:23
The scales are broken, so I’ve to sift through, literally, over a thousand polly bags, for the purposes of counting them. Then, floor cleaners broken, so I’ve to mop the entire shop floor, just the two of us, before being allowed home.
& I didn’t get home until after midnight.
This after again being scheduled for exactly a four hour shift, which means no breaks. As per my shift went over the four hours, which meant I never got the breaks I should have.
Sixteen hours I’ve worked since my last break.
& I don’t think I’ve left that building on time in 2013.
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 16:18 Thursday
Each day is a step closer to me telling those above to ram it.
An example, if you don’t mind from both of my two most recent shifts.
I am approaching the end of my break. A break which was delayed half an hour until 4.30pm, (during a 0800-1800 shift). The manager who took over the second till while I was away rings the bell. I’m in the toilet. I hear the bell. My break is not yet over. I emerge to find six people standing at my queue, and catch him jumping in his car and driving away in the background. YOU COULDN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP
I am first till. The queue builds up, around 8 people. I ring for a manager to jump on, theres only two of us in the shop. He doesn’t come. I’m getting flustered and shaky. I RING AGAIN. I jump off the till to check if he’s still in the office. With 10-15 people stood there! Three full minutes pass of me nervously passing through shopping. HE WAS OUTSIDE WITH THE PLUMBER. YOU COULDN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP.
On both occasions I confronted them afterwords. The first brushed over it. The second almost managed to prove my own point.
P.S, I just walked home 3 miles in the pissing rain, because I had to re-sweep and re-clean the floor.
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 16:24
Phoned home as I raged hurriedly along the road from work tonight in the rain. I can’t help but talk about it even though I know It’s pushing people away. My mates laugh it off and take the piss. But I’ve worked in retail for five years. In five different jobs. I know how I expect to be treated, not just at work but in life. And this is bollocks. I can hear it in my mums voice that the way I’m being treated and talking is upsetting her. Worrying about me. She said she wished it was different. And so do I
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 16:45
Feeling Trapped and so Low
Manager told me it was my fault. If I had done it right first time I wouldn’t have to do it again. It’s almost comparable to how a victim of domestic abuse must feel. I’ve been almost brainwashed into thinking the way I’m treated is okay. Because I’m trapped in this job. Thoroughly miserable and trapped. What a thankless task. Even after racing about like a blue arsed fly to get out on time, It’s my fault. Feeling worthless lonely and miserable. It’s already come to blows. It’s a matter of time before i put an end to this shit. But I can’t afford it.
Posted by Lidl Bylidl at 16:52
Feel like I could burst into tears. If Morrissey sings just the right line It’ll come
Reblogged from http://lidlbylidl.blogspot.co.uk/