Three UK supermarket giants are launching inquiries into working conditions at fruit packaging plants and another has suspended all its orders after a Channel 4 news investigation revealed harsh conditions for migrant workers at an FW Mansfield plant in Kent.
Aldi has suspended all orders from one plant. An Aldi spokesperson said:
Our terms and conditions clearly state that growers must treat their employees fairly so we have immediately suspended supply with FW Mansfield, who supply Aldi and other supermarkets, including M&S, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s while we investigate this matter.
Others are launching investigations. A spokesperson for M&S said:
We take any allegations of this nature very seriously and are investigating these claims. All or suppliers must adhere to our strict ethical standards as a condition of working with us and, where we do find evidence of our standards not being followed, we work with the supplier and its workers to take any necessary action.
And a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said:
We expect our suppliers to adhere to our quality, ethical and worker welfare standards, regardless of where they operate in the world. We are taking these allegations very seriously and will be working with our suppliers and the appropriate authorities to investigate them fully.
Waitrose is also looking into the matter. "We are taking these allegations very seriously and immediately arranged an unannounced independent audit of this site, as well as a visit by senior members of our own team," it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury's told Channel 4 News they have also launched an investigation.
Channel 4 news said its undercover reporter "experienced first hand the highly-pressured environment, with managers breathing down workers' necks to meet strict targets. And with many of them living in appalling conditions that they say are supplied by the agency they work for - and that some say aren't fit for animals."