EVERY WEEK IN BRITAIN, 32
MILLION PEOPLE SHOP IN SUPERMARKETS What we see: Low prices Great choice Value for money But don’t be fooled. What we don’t see What we pay is only part of the price.
WHAT WE DON’T SEE The
big four supermarkets Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda Value for and Safeway have money! acquired staggering levels of economic power in recent years which they use cajole suppliers into unfair contracts. Supermarkets use their size and power to bully suppliers. Risks and costs are passed on and prices forced through the floor...... ....in turn, Suppliers Insecure work offload the pressures on to workers... ....And increasingly outsource to subcontractors in the „informal economy.
TAKE A LOOK AT BRITAIN’S
FAVOURITE FRUIT It’s a ‘known-value item’, a key product that consumers use to compare prices between supermarkets. In 2002, a price war broke out between the big four which saw the retail price of Bananas drop from £1.08 per kilo to 66p per kilo. Good for the consumer? Thank ASDA! They signed a deal with Del Monte who had already slashed the pay rate of its piece rate workers by 40%. Other supermarkets followed ASDA and the „Del Monte model‟ became standard across Costa Rica and the whole banana industry.
SO THE NEXT TIME YOU
BUY A BUNCH OF BANANAS, THINK ABOUT THIS: Plantation worker gets 2.5% of what you pay The typical working day is between 12 and 15 hours, to achieve a daily minimum wage of under £5. 3 month temporary contracts are the norm. This minimises pay & workers rights and absolves the employer of paying any social security contributions. Increasingly, suppliers resort to subcontractors to reduce costs still further. Workers are exposed to dangerous pesticides, especially women who get the worst jobs.
BUT GUESS WHO GETS WHAT?
For every pound shoppers spend on cashews in British supermarkets, just one penny goes to the women workers Wages have gone down, not up: a dire piece rate is compounded by the common practice of under weighing workers produce This is because the relentless downward pressure on costs has spawned a whole industry of illegal subcontractors who have undercut factories that ensure minimum wages and working conditions. Meanwhile the big UK retailers sell cashews for over twice the price they go for in specialist Asian shops Poor pay is matched by terrible working conditions
THE HIDDEN COSTS OF PRODUCTION
The extracts below are from a report by ActionAid with regard to cashew workers in India: the quotes are workers talking about their experiences. Click here for report Oil released during the cashew shelling “the oil burns, but I‟m used to process is highly caustic, leading to the pain now. I have to be” dermatitis, blistering and discoloration of workers‟ skin In addition to the corrosive oil, acrid “When there are more smoke released by the cashew workers, they will make us sit in roasting process also causes health the smoke-filled sheds where they problems. One survey conducted in fry the nuts and it 2003 found that 45% of cashew causes suffocation.” workers experience respiratory illness In most cashew factories, women sit in a squatting position on mud or concrete floors. All the women workers interviewed by ActionAid say “I have severe pain in they or their colleagues suffer from pains in their my toes and knees and leg muscles, backs and knee joints, and that sometimes back pain,” many women damage their uteruses through Bindi says. “But I have to squatting for long periods work to fend for myself and my family.”
AGAIN, IT’S WOMEN WORKERS WHO
SUFFER MOST The extracts below are from a report by ActionAid with regard to cashew workers in India: the quotes are workers talking about their experiences. Click here for report In order to minimise costs and “I‟m paid four rupees a maximise profits, employers in kilo, my mother worked India‟s cashew industry prefer “The responsibility for the in the cashew factories but she became ill, I‟ve women who have nowhere else to children has always lain on had to take on the turn for income to feed their my shoulders, my husband is responsibility for families. Many have little choice often out and he does not providing for our but to accept unfair pay and hear their cries of hunger. family… We have no Men just don‟t understand conditions. other money coming these things. They take for in.” 15 year old girl granted that there is food working in a cashew in the house.” factory “There are 150 people working at my factory. All of them except for six are women. But the men take the best jobs, with the best pay.”