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In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Wordery website for information on how the company managed workers' rights in its supply chain. No information was found other than a modern slavery statement which did not refer explicitly to any policies on supply chain management.

Supply chain policy (poor)
A strong policy would include the following commitments: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, payment of a living wage, the restriction of working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (without exception), no use of a child labour (under 15 or 14 if ILO exempt), no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason.
As Wordery did not appear to have any policies surrounding supply chain policy it received a poor rating.

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 labour standards, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language.
Given that Wordery did not appear to have any documentation on its policies surrounding stakeholder engagement, it received a poor rating.

Auditing and Reporting (poor)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should be 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.
In its Modern Slavery Statement Wordery did not disclose any information about its results of audits.
Regarding an audit schedule, Wordery stated that the company will periodically undertake supplier audits, “whether conducted internally or through external agencies together with checking supplier references with external third parties”. This was, however, auditing for modern slavery risk as opposed to general workers rights.
Regarding the supply chain breadth, the company stated that before it commenced dealing with a new supplier, it looked to audit its practices, policies and procedures with an increasing focus on the suppliers ethical trading standards. It did not specify what it meant by such standards.
The company provided no information regarding the costs of audits nor about remediation policy, only stating, “if we find evidence of a failure to comply with our policies we will seek to terminate our relationship with the relevant supplier".
Due to its lack of adequate policies regarding its auditing and reporting, Wordery received a poor score.

Difficult Issues (poor)
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 meeting labour standards, 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.
Wordery did not appear to have any policies on its approach to difficult issues and therefore the company received a poor score for this section.

Overall, Wordery did not have adequate policies relating to its supply chain management and therefore received a worst rating in this category.


Wordery website (12 July 2021)

In September 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed The Guardian website and found an article dated 08 April 2019 titled "Waterstones staff deliver petition for living wage to firm's HQ".

The article stated that "About 1,900 of the company’s 3,100 workers are paid below the real living wage" and that in April 2019 Waterstones staff from across the UK handed over a 9,300-signature petition to the company's managing director, James Daunt. The article brought to attention the unpaid work of some employees, including one story of an employee who "was never compensated for the hours spent organising store events and reading widely to keep her job". The petition was given alongside a self-published book containing employee's testimonies of their endemic financial worries among booksellers at all levels, with some feeling the required expertise to do the job well has gone unrecognised.

The managing director responded in the article that he was aiming for “a progressing pay structure based on a floor of the real living wage”, but that "the chain could not yet afford the estimated £5m cost of raising wages, two years after returning to profit".

Waterstones lost half a mark under Worker's Rights.


Petition to Waterstones to pay living wage (April 2019)