Coles promotes ethical employment in horticulture supply chain

Coles has joined three major unions to promote ethical employment practices and treatment of workers throughout the Australian horticulture supply chain.

According to the retailer, it has worked with unions representing workers from every stage of the Australian fresh produce supply chain to develop the Coles Ethical Retail Supply Chain Accord.

The Accord is signed by Coles and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU). Its aim is to achieve a safe, sustainable, ethical and fair retail supply chain for all workers regardless of their employment status, citizenship or visa status.

‘Committed to winning together’

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain says the Accord would enable Coles to partner with unions to improve outcomes for workers within the horticulture supply chain, with a particular focus on labour hire organisations.

“We’re committed to winning together by working with all stakeholders right through the horticulture supply chain to better protect human rights,” he said.

“Aussie farmers are central to our commitment to helping all Australians lead healthier, happier lives. Around 95 per cent of the fresh produce we sell in Coles supermarkets is grown on Australian farms.

“Our farmers are among the hardest workers in Australia and so are the workers on their farms. It’s therefore important that we’re working with farmers, labour hire organisations, industry bodies like the National Farmers Federation, the unions, government and the broader industry to ensure the people who have grown, picked, packed, delivered and stacked this food are treated ethically and fairly.

“By working collaboratively with all stakeholders, we aim to improve human rights not just in our own supply chain but across the entire horticultural sector that also serves the export, food service and food processing sectors.”

Collaboration under the Accord

As part of the Accord, representatives from Coles, the TWU, AWU and the SDA will meet regularly to plan collaborative activities and discuss the investigation of complaints. The Accord members will also hold regular town hall meetings to hear from workers and provide information on workplace rights.

Coles and the unions will work on initiatives to embed ethical principles in the broader retail supply chain.

In addition, the Accord will create more opportunities for work education initiatives. This includes development and dissemination of worker guidelines, freedom of association, migrant worker arrival training and using technological solutions for greater penetration of education and training materials.

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