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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Enjoying that comfy lifestyle bro? You should, it comes off the back of much poorer people

As ethical people, I think we are still coming to terms with globalization. The latest research that shows huge supermarket chains are effectively subsidizing food for their first world clients while penalizing the poor in the third world who work to create that food should make all of us feel a little ill. I appreciate our right wing friends will attempt to explain that this is the ‘market’ at work and not to get any indigestion from this matter, but our right wing friends don’t tend to care about the negative effects of their ‘market’, so we can’t expect anything resembling sympathy from them, for the rest of us though, the realization is that the power is with us – if you don’t agree with what the supermarkets are doing, don’t shop at these dirty super markets, take your money else where (Trade Aid for example) or start lobbying the supermarkets. Of course some will say that is too passive and nothing wakes up a greedy supermarket like a petrol bomb.

Big chains 'causing Third World poverty'
LONDON - The low prices enjoyed by shoppers at British supermarkets are paid for by poor wages, job insecurity and a denial of basic human rights for workers in some of the world's poorest countries, a scathing report has concluded. It finds that the growing power of big supermarkets is the driving force behind a mode of doing business that is made possible by exploiting workers, particularly women, in developing countries. The report, produced by ActionAid, accuses the supermarkets, who take £7 ($18.85) out of every £10 spent on the high street, of using their vast market power to drive down prices at their overseas suppliers. The investigation found that supermarkets were paying wages of as little as 5p an hour in some Bangladeshi garment factories, while in India some workers processing cashew nuts were being paid just 30p a day. ActionAid urges the British Government to set up an independent regulator and calls on supermarkets to publicly acknowledge the damaging impacts of buying practices on workers and suppliers, and take steps to address them. It calls for "binding legislation" to help protect workers' rights as voluntary initiatives are not working. "Labour rights abuses in supermarket supply chains remain systematic, and in fact they are becoming more severe," the charity says. The report comes midway through the Competition Commission's probe into the £120 billion grocery sector. The watchdog wants to investigate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers. It says it has "concerns" about how the supply chain works in the UK. ActionAid claims shopping could become a "tool for poverty reduction" if supermarkets treat their suppliers better so that more of the millions of pounds spent every day on grocery shopping flowed back to the workers producing what Britons buy. "This is how 'development' happens," it says. An investigation into how bananas are grown in Costa Rica found that workers' rights, pay and conditions have suffered from the intense price war that rages between UK grocers. Suppliers are forced to absorb the costs of the banana price battle because they need the business: supermarkets typically take between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of a banana supplier's stocks.


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