Tesco and Sainsbury’s among supermarkets linked to migrant worker abuse

Tesco and Sainsbury’s have been named among a number of supermarket giants which have been linked to multiple migrant worker abuses within the UK.

New data from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) revealed that 56% of recorded abuse against migrant workers in the UK occurred on supermarket shop floors, agriculture, fishing, processing and packaging.

Data recorded between 1 December 2022 and 30 November 2023 found ten supermarket chains were explicitly linked to abuse in the past year: Tesco (8 cases), Lidl (4 cases), Morrisons (3 cases), Sainsbury’s (3 cases), Co-op (3 cases), Aldi (2 cases), Asda (2 cases), Waitrose (2 cases), Marks and Spencer (1 case) and SPAR (1 case).

Racism, wage theft and threats of unfair dismissal were a dangerous combination in many of the recorded cases.

Amid government failure to protect human rights – and consistent reports of abuse from workers – supermarkets at the top of supply chains must undertake rigorous human rights due diligence to identify, mitigate and redress risks to their migrant workforce, the BHRRC said.

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Exploitation was most reported on agriculture and livestock farms (27 cases).

However, the scope and scale of abuse is believed to be much higher than these figures indicate – owing to lack of access to remedy and grievance mechanisms by migrant workers, and the threat of reprisal for workers who said they were afraid to speak up.

BHRRC senior migrant rights researcher Isobel Archer said: “Supermarkets must realise it’s simply not enough to publish general labour rights policies; they need to recognise specific vulnerabilities for UK-bound farmworkers and fishers and urgently respond to them by adopting tailored and migrant worker-centric risk assessment, due diligence and remedy processes.

“It is high time businesses recognise the consequence of their inaction and lack of safeguards – and they must believe workers,” Archer added.

“There is still some way to go if they want to be credited with taking their human rights responsibilities seriously.”

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Concerned migrant skilled worker
    December 15, 2023 7:22 pm

    Hie l work in a fish processing company their is a lot of abuse especially migrants it’s becoming out of hand you’re not allowed to put any complaint because they will threaten you that they will cancel your VISA we are forced to work long hours and people can’t complain, especially this Christmas we are working 16 hours and you be on your feet we start from 7 in the morning til half past ten in the evening. am so tired l need a restand we are forced to work during weekends we only rest on Sunday and it’s not enough l didn’t think England will treat me like this as far as working conditions are concerned.yesterday one of migrant worker collapsed during work imagine working 14 to 16 hours 6 days a week without rest please help us out we afraid that if we report the case our visas will be canceled and company license will be revoked ending up going back home and if you try to leave the job they say they need their money they payed for VISA sponsorship.so we are in-between l was relieved when l saw this post 😭

    • Hi I have just seen your post – I am a journalist working to uncover this case and would like to talk to you about your experiences. Would you be willing to speak with me? I can ensure anonymity.


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