Vulnerable Migrant Workers: The Responsibility of Business - an overview and comparative analysis of food production, manufacture and retail companies
This report provides an overview of the vulnerable position of many migrant workers employed in Britain and Ireland and offers a comparative analysis of the extent to which nine food production, manufacture and retail (supermarket) companies address this vulnerability.
Key findings and issues:
- With the growth in 'flexible' labour, migrant workers have increasingly filled agency, seasonal and temporary jobs in Britain and Ireland.
- Migrant workers are vulnerable and may be subject to very low pay, over-long hours, poor health and safety conditions, and discrimination.
- Weaknesses in the rights enforcement system mean that abuses may go undetected and unaddressed.
- Sectors where migrant workers are concentrated include care, cleaning, construction, hospitality and catering, and food production, manufacturing and retail (supermarkets).
- Companies and investors have a responsibility to reduce the incidence of vulnerable work throughout the supply chain.
- Few food companies in the study are explicit about the potential vulnerability of migrant workers or the additional support that they may need.
- Few of these companies have mainstreamed considerations about labour conditions into their core business practice.
The report recommendations highlight the need for companies to:
- recognise the potential vulnerability of migrant, temporary and agency workers;
- mainstream responsibility for labour conditions in their business practice;
- implement effective codes of conduct for suppliers;
- increase awareness of rights among all workers;
- strengthen monitoring and audits.
Companies in the survey: Associated British Foods, Greencore Group, Kerry Group, Morrisons, Northern Foods, Premier Foods, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever.
Report sponsored by Rathbone Greenbank Investments.
Published May 2009. Hard copy: ECCR members - £8 / €9 / $13. Non-members - £16 / €18 / $26. Order form.
Executive summary (pdf).
Download the full report (pdf).
Investors action guide (pdf).
Church action guide (pdf).