Top Stories

July 19, 2016

Labour Rights

Delivery giant Hermes pays some couriers less than minimum wage

Britain’s second-biggest parcel company, Hermes, which delivers for John Lewis and other major retailers, is paying some of its couriers at levels equivalent to below the UK’s National Living Wage according to a Guardian investigation. By law, Hermes does not need to pay its 10,500 “lifestyle couriers” the £7.20 an hour minimum because they are self-employed. They do not receive any paid holiday, sick pay, parental leave or pension contributions, and pay for their own fuel and car insurance. Trade unions have complained that such arrangements could amount to “bogus self-employment”, a position supported by some of the couriers but strongly denied by Hermes. “I don’t feel like I am self-employed at all,” said a current Hermes courier. “If they are going to treat us like employees, make us employees.” (Guardian)


Report: Increasing number of labour provisions in trade agreements don’t hamper business

Trade-related labour provisions, such as ones that address labour relations or minimum working conditions for employees, do not harm business or make trade provisions less popular, according to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO’s study found that a trade agreement which included labour provisions raised the value of trade by 28 percent on average, as compared with 26 percent for a similar agreement without the labour provision. The report also found that labour provisions support labour market access, particularly for working-age women. In the future, the UN agency encourages trade negotiations to become less opaque by involving stakeholders, especially social partners – and not just governments – in the making and implementation of labour provisions in trade agreements. (UN News Centre)

Supply Chain

Tesco finds an appetite for 100 percent sustainably sourced cocoa

Supermarket giant Tesco has revealed that it will acquire all cocoa used for its own label chocolate, biscuits, cakes, deserts and cereal products sold in the UK from Rainforest Alliance Certified sources by the end of 2018. The supermarket will launch and support a variety of cocoa-growing communities in an effort to boost farmer income, improve soil quality and conserve the surrounding wildlife. “Our customers want to be reassured that we treat farmers and growers well and that the foods they buy are sourced responsibly. Our collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance will help to support cocoa farmers improve their livelihoods and ensure we are offering great sustainable and affordable products,” said Jason Tarry, Tesco’s chief product officer. (edie)


Publix commits to cage-free eggs

Publix, the fifth-largest grocery store chain in US, is the latest to make a cage-free commitment. The announcement means all of the top 25 grocery store chains in the US have made commitments to go cage-free and comes after an extensive campaign by animal welfare group Mercy For Animals targeting the grocery store chain. The company will transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2026. Publix already sells seven varieties of cage-free eggs, which it claims is “more than most traditional retailers.” It also says it is “diligently working” with egg suppliers, industry leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to “better understand the timing of converting our shell egg supply to completely cage-free.” (Triple Pundit)


Google won’t pay more tax until the law changes, CEO Sundar Pichai says

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has defended the company’s tax practices and said it will not be paying any more tax unless international tax law is changed. Pichai said Google has already invested “very heavily” in Europe, where it employs 14,000 people. “As a global company, we find ourselves between the conflicting priorities of international tax law,” said the CEO. He added that Google   respected these laws and that governments would have to make changes if they wanted to keep more revenue at home. He also warned that the UK’s decision to leave the EU may complicate regulation and make it difficult for internet companies to make sense of the rules. (Independent)


Image source: Sainsbury’s distribution center in Waltham Point, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom by Nick Saltmarsh / CC BY 2.0