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The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has welcomed calls from Nick Herbert, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to set up a so-called 'Supermarket Ombudsman' to rule on disputes between supermarkets and their suppliers.
Herbert told a farming conference "we will introduce an ombudsman to curb abuses of power which undermine our farmers and act against the long-term interest of consumers."
Commenting on the development Anne Fairweather, Head of Public Policy at the REC said "it is a common experience of recruiters that supermarkets push highly competitive pricing structures down their supply chains. Recruiters supplying staff into food processing plants, or onto fields to pick crops, often bare the brunt of this pressure as they are inevitably at the end of the supply chain."
"Whilst greater awareness of the minimum amount agencies need to receive in order to pay minimum wage and taxes has been welcomed, there is still more to do. Minimum levels of payment alone do not ensure that good recruitment practice is followed. It is vital that the proposed Ombudsman looks at all players in the supply chain, including recruitment agencies. REC will be pressing the Conservatives to ensure that their proposals look at the widest possible supply chain."
REC will be responding to the Gangmaster Licensing Authority consultation on how they work with supermarkets to share information on audits of supply chains later in January.