In September 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed Britvic PLC’s website for information on how the company managed workers' rights in its supply chain.
Supply chain policy (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer viewed the Sustainable Business section on Britvic PLC’s website in September 2017, and downloaded their Ethical Business Standards. It stated that the Standards applied to ‘Britvic suppliers and business partners’.
The Standards specified that Britvic and suppliers ‘must be in accordance with the ‘Ethical Trading Initiative’ (ETI) base code’. It referred to the ETI policies: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, no use of a child labour (under 15 or 14 if ILO exempt), no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason.
The Standards contained policies on Living Wage and Working Hours, but stated only that these must comply with national law. This was not considered to be adequate as it did not commit the company to paying a living wage or a maximum working week of 48 hours with 12 hours overtime.
Ethical Consumer therefore considered Britvic PLC’s supply chain policy to be rudimentary.
Stakeholder engagement (poor)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to demonstrate stakeholder engagement, such as through membership of the Ethical Trade Initiative, Fair Labour Association or Social Accountability International. Companies were also expected to engage with Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations which could systematically verify the company's supply chain audits, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language.
Ethical Consumer viewed Britvic PLC’s Whistleblowing Policy. This contained details of and contacts for a free, independent and confidential speak up service. Unfortunately, it did not specify that the complaints system would be in employees’ own language.
Ethical Consumer also viewed Britvic PLC’s 2016 Sustainability Report, which stated that the company is a member of ‘AIM Progress Group - a group of FMCG companies united in our commitment to promote responsible sourcing practices.’ However, Ethical Consumer did not consider this to be a multi-stakeholder initiative, as it was an industry only group with no civil society partners.
Auditing and Reporting (poor)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should publicly reported and quantitatively analysed. The company should have a scheduled and transparent audit plan that applies to their whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers. The company should also have a staged policy for non-compliance. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company.
Ethical Consumer viewed Britvic PLC’s 2016 Sustainability Report. It stated, ‘66% of ‘ethical high risk’ suppliers have third party ethical audit in place/requested’. It also stated that a target for 2017 was for ‘75% of our ‘Ethical High Risk’ direct suppliers with audit reports in place or in the process of completing an audit’. Britvic therefore had a schedule for its audit plan, but the plan wasn’t transparent as it did not mention supplier locations, did not apply to the whole supply chain, and no results were disclosed.
Britvic’s Ethical Business Standard stated, ‘failure to implement the Ethical Business Standards and comply with Britvic’s ‘Ethical Supplier Approval’ process could prevent you being offered a contract or could lead to your contract not being renewed, or an existing contract being terminated.’ However, Ethical Consumer did not consider this to be an adequate policy for non-compliance, as no suggestion was made for working with the supplier to improve conditions.
Ethical Consumer therefore considered the company to have a poor Auditing and Reporting process.
Difficult issues (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chains. This would include ongoing training for agents, or rewards for suppliers, or preference for long term suppliers. It would also include acknowledgement of audit fraud and unannounced audits, and measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association.
Britvic’s Ethical Business Standards stated, ‘Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.’ As they discussed no other difficult issues, they received a rudimentary for this category overall.
The company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Supply Chain Management overall.
www.britvic.com (20 September 2017)