In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Morrisons’ corporate website and downloaded its 'Corporate Responsibility Review' 2019/20 (as well as previous issues of this annual report).
Supply Chain Policy (good)
Morrisons '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 was therefore considered to apply to the whole Morrisons supply chain. 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.
Morrisons 2019-20 '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). It was also noted that Morrisons had joined additional initiatives since the previous year’s report including the Spain Ethical Trade Forums and Slave-Free Alliance
While it was positive that the company was working with NGOs and charities to improve its supply chain, Ethical Consumer could not find evidence 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 Morrisons received a rudimentary rating for stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
The company's 2018-19 'Modern Slavery Act Statement' stated:
‘There were 811 audits undertaken at active sites linked to Morrisons on the Sedex platform in 2019 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 or Critical non-compliances raised under the heading of “Employment is Freely Chosen”. All issues have now been resolved.’ Unlike in the previous year’s report, Morrisons did not list these instances of non-compliance.
Morrisons '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.”
Morrisons 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 (rudimentary)
In its 'Modern Slavery Act Statement 2019/20', Morrisons stated "Recognising the limitations of social audit in effectively identifying modern slavery, we take additional steps in higher risk areas of our supply chain to increase oversight. In 2019 we developed and trialled an online site reporting tool for use by our internationally based Technical Managers to capture working conditions, labour rights and modern slavery risk information live at source during site technical visits. This is supported by enhanced due diligence requirements for growers and processors detailed in our updated Raw Material Sourcing Policy, which requires all operators in our value chain to join Sedex and share risk information.” This was accepted as acknowledgement that problems of audit fraud exist and a systematic approach to addressing it.
The company provided its staff with ongoing training on modern slavery in supply chains. While this was a positive step, it was not clear whether the training programmes incorporated broader issues around labour standards in the supply chain (as well as modern slavery). Ethical Consumer expected training to be given on all workers' rights issues that could occur within the company's supply chain.
Morrisons was considered to have a rudimentary approach to Difficult Issues.
Overall Morrisons received a Best Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and retained full marks in this category.
Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/2020 (2020)