In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Morrison's corporate website and downloaded its 'Corporate Responsibility Review' 2018/19 (as well as previous issues of this annual report).

Supply Chain Policy (good)
Morrison’s 'Ethical Trading Policy', dated October 2015, was viewed. It stated that: “All own-brand suppliers and pre-determined suppliers of goods and/or services not for resale supplying into Morrisons Supermarkets Plc and its subsidiaries (Morrisons Group) are in the scope of this Policy. Through Sedex, we monitor compliance in all tier-one sites. Sites beyond tier-one will be risk assessed and included in our monitoring programme where deemed necessary.” The policy included adequate clauses on forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and discrimination.

The clause on wages also stated: “Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages shall always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.” This clause was considered to be adequately addressing payment of a living wage.

The clause on working hours stated that hours must not exceed 60 hours a week (48 normal hours, 12 overtime) but "working hours may exceed 60 hours in exceptional circumstances where any of the following are met: this is allowed by national law; this is allowed by a collective agreement freely negotiated with a workers’ organisation representing a significant portion of the workforce; appropriate safeguards are taken to protect the workers’ health and safety; and the employer can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances apply such as seasonal work, accidents or emergencies." As this clause matched the clause in the ETI basecode and Morrison's was a full member Ethical Consumer considered it adequate.
Overall Morrison's received a good rating for its supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer viewed the Ethical Trading Initiative's website and found that Morrisons was a full member of the multi-stakeholder initiative. Morrison's 2018-19 'Modern Slavery Act Statement' stated that the company continued to work with anti-slavery group Stronger Together as well as a number of others including: Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET), and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and Seafood Ethics Action Alliance (SEA Alliance). While it was positive that the company was working with NGOs and charities to improve its supply chain, Ethical Consumer could not find evidennce that a third party provided systematic input in order to verify the company's labour standard audits in the countries where its goods were produced.

The company operated "an externally provided whistleblowing hotline called “Tell Us” which is available to all suppliers, enabling them to raise concerns directly and anonymously to our head office Risk and Compliance teams." However, it was not clear whether the service was free of charge and available in the first language of those working in the company's supply chain.

Overall Morrison's received a rudimentary rating for stakeholder engagement.

Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
The company's 2018-19 'Modern Slavery Act Statement' stated: "There were 790 audits undertaken at active sites linked to Morrisons on the Sedex platform in 2018 using either the Sedex Members Ethical Trading Audit (SMETA) or Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) methodology. Our third party audit programme identified 5 tier one factories with Major, Critical or Business Critical non-compliances raised under the heading of “Employment is Freely Chosen”." It listed these 5 non-compliances, but the company did not disclose other non-compliances that may have been found in audits that were not specially related to modern slavery.

Morrison’s 'Ethical Trading Policy', dated October 2015, stated: “High risk sites will be subject to full ethical audits every 12 months; we will expect medium risk sites to undertake full audits every 24 months; low risk sites must update SEDEX Self Assessment Questionnaire at least every 6 months. For each of the non-compliances raised in an audit, corrective actions must be taken within timescales appropriate to the criticality, with systems in place to ensure that they do not re-occur. Deadlines for follow-up audits depend on Morrison's grading of audit findings.”

Morrison's was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting as it had a schedule for auditing its supply chain and a remediation policy. However there was no mention of who paid for the audits, a commitment to audit its whole supply chain or full disclosure of audit results.

Difficult issues (poor)
In its 'Modern Slavery Act Statement 2018/19', the company acknowledged the possibility of audit fraud: "We remain conscious of the limitations of social audits (especially in countries with high levels of corruption), but they remain an important component of our due diligence programme. We supplement this process through collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders and continuously increase support for new and existing multi-stakeholder initiatives designed to empower and mobilise our supplier base to take ownership for issues in our shared supply chain." While the company did implicitly acknowledge the possibility of audit fraud, Ethical Consumer would also expect to see a systematic approach to addressing it, such as unannounced audits.

The company provided its staff with ongoing training on modern slavery in supply chains. While this is a positive step, Ethical Consumer expects training to be given on this and other potential workers' rights issues that could occur within the company's supply chain.

No policies could be found to address illegal freedom of association and living wages. Therefore Morrison's received a poor rating for difficult issues.

Overall Morrison's received a middle Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

CSR report 2018-19 (January 2018)

In January 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Morrison's retail website, which listed a number of tobacco products.

The company lost a full mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference:

groceries.morrisons.com (24 April 2018)

In April 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Information Commissioner Office website, titled 'Morrisons supermarket chain fined for flouting customers’ marketing wishes' and dated to June 2017.

It stated: 'An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (“Morrisons”) deliberately sent 130,671 emails to people who had previously opted out of receiving marketing related to their Morrisons More card.' The company was fined £10,500.

It therefore lost half a mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference:

Morrisons supermarket chain fined for flouting customers’ marketing wishes (16 June 2017)

In June 2019 Oxfam released an update to its 2018 report on supermarkets. The report scored 16 of the biggest supermarkets in Europe and the US on how they tackled critical issues affecting the people working in their food supply chains. The specific areas covered were: transparency and accountability; respect for workers' rights; fair treatment of farmers; and fair treatment of women.

None of the supermarkets was found to be doing enough to ensure basic human rights in their supply chains. The report observed that some workers went to work and produced food all day, but went home hungry. All the companies were given marks out of 100 in each of the above categories. The lowest mark was 3% and the highest 38%.

Morrisons scored 16% overall – up from 5% in 2018 – broken down as follows:

transparency 17%

workers' rights 38%

farmers rights 8%

womens' rights 0%

As the supermarket received red (0-20%) or orange (21-40%) ratings across the board, it was marked down under Human Rights.

Reference:

Behind the Barcodes 2019 (12 August 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Morrison's website, my.morrisons.com and found that the company sold a range of clothes containing cotton under the "Nutmeg" brand. The clothes were not labelled as being made from organic cotton. No cotton sourcing policies were found on the company's corporate website.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com (16 January 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer searched Morrison's corporate website, www.morrisons-corporate.com, and its Corporate Responsibility Review 2018-19 for information on the company's commitments to addressing child labour, child slavery and other workers' rights issues within its cocoa supply chain. No information regarding the company's cocoa supply chain could be found. The company offered a number of own-brand Fairtrade certified products. The remainder of the company's cocoa products appeared to be uncertified.

The company did not provide a public deadline for certifying all of its cocoa, and only offered a couple of certified cocoa products. As the issue of child and slave labour within the cocoa supply chain had been raised as an issue since before 2000 Ethical Consumer did not take into account future commitments to sourcing fair and sustainable cocoa. The company therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cocoa supply chain management and lost half a mark under Workers' Rights.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com (16 January 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer view a story on the BBC News website titled, 'Morrisons faces women's equal pay action', dated 14 February 2019.

The article stated, "Supermarket giant Morrisons is facing legal action by women who work in its stores." The dispute is centred around the difference in pay between those working in the stores and those working in the distribution centres, the latter being paid more.

The law firm conducting the case was Roscoe Reid. A lawyer at Roscoe Reid, said: '"There is a clear case that female roles have been underpaid for a long time and employees are very likely to win their equal pay cases."'

As the dispute had not yet been settled and the court process was still ongoing, Morrisons was not marked down at the time of writing.

Reference:

Morrisons faces women's equal pay action (14 February 2019)