Oxfam welcomes new measures by Lidl to protect overseas workers

Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes scorecard assesses the policies and practices needed to ensure that human and labour rights are fully respected in supermarkets’ global food supply chains

Oxfam welcomes the fact that within its global supply chains “for the first time, Lidl has promised specific steps to ensure fair and equal treatment for women"

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23 April 2020 | 0

Oxfam has welcomed new measures introduced by Lidl this week to protect the human rights of overseas workers in its global supply chains. According to the charity, the commitments follow months of campaigning by nearly 40,000 Oxfam supporters in both the UK and The Netherlands.

Lidl is currently bottom of Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes scorecard, which assesses the policies and practices needed to ensure that human and labour rights are fully respected in supermarkets’ global food supply chains. The scorecard tracks some of the largest and fastest growing supermarkets headquartered in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA with an operational footprint across the world. In the UK, it focuses on the six major supermarkets there: namely, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl.

According to Oxfam, Lidl has an overall score of just 9% and previously had made the least progress since the campaign was launched in 2018.

Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam ethical trade manager says that while the charity is “very grateful” for the role supermarkets and their staff are playing in home markets to provide food and support, it is nevertheless important to ensure “the rights of vulnerable workers in poor countries who produce our food are protected.”

“We welcome this significant progress from Lidl during this time of disruption,” Wilshaw said.

Oxfam’s campaign aims to improve the lives of the millions of people around the world producing food for supermarkets, many of whom are trapped in poverty and face brutal working conditions.

Lidl has committed to several measures; including strengthening its policy on human rights, providing more information about its suppliers, taking steps to prevent modern slavery and a promise to tackle wages of workers which fall well short of a living wage. The supermarket is one of the largest food retailers in the world, with more than 10,000 stores in 32 countries.

“For the first time, Lidl has promised specific steps to ensure fair and equal treatment for women,” Wilshaw said. “We are particularly encouraged by this change, as over the last two years, Lidl has scored zero points in our assessment of their policies to protect women workers. We know that women tend to be clustered in the lowest-paid and least secure jobs in food supply chains, so this acknowledgement has the potential to transform lives.”

Oxfam will continue to engage with Lidl, to ensure that the benefits of the new policies reach workers in the supermarket’s supply chains.

In making new company-wide public commitments, Lidl follows two Dutch supermarkets, Albert Heijn and Jumbo, who made equivalent pledges last year, following Oxfam supporters campaigning in The Netherlands.

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