Supermarkets called upon to address human rights abuses in supply chains

Supermarkets are being called upon to address human rights abuses in their Spanish supply chains. Campaigning group, Ethical Consumer says that COVID-19 has pushed to crisis point the situation for migrant workers employed on farms that supply fruit and vegetables to the UK's major brands.

It says recent social distancing laws have confined migrant workers to the cramped shanty towns in southern Spain where they live. It adds that many workers in the Almeria and Huelva regions report being without access to running water, food or other vital supplies.

The regions are believed to supply all major UK supermarkets. 97% of Spain’s berry crop is grown in Huelva, and over 35% of the country’s total fruit and vegetable exports are from Almeria.

Clare Carlile, a researcher at the organisation said: “Ethical Consumer is calling on the UK's supermarkets to take responsibility for the rights of workers who grow the produce that they sell.

“Although all major UK supermarkets claim to have adequate policies in place, in some instances they are clearly failing to protect workers in their supply chains.”

The group wants supermarkets to publish complete lists of suppliers, going back to the source farms, and a whistleblowing hotline for workers to report abuses.

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