Recommendations Follow Processing Sector Inquiry

UK - The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published its report following an inquiry into recruitment and employment in the meat and poultry processing sector, and makes a series of recommendations.
calendar icon 27 April 2010
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The inquiry report is a summary of EHRC's findings and the recommendations that it believes will bring about change in the recruitment and employment of people in the meat and poultry processing sector.

Based on the findings of the inquiry, the Commission has made recommendations to the key bodies – supermarkets, agencies, processing firms, government, regulators and unions – which it believes will encourage a systemic change in behaviour. These recommendations include:

  • Processing firms and agencies to use fair and transparent recruitment practices and provide workers with a safe working environment free from discrimination and harassment, where they are able to raise issues of concern without fear of the consequences.
  • Supermarkets to improve their support to and auditing of suppliers, and
  • Government to provide sufficient resources for the GLA to deliver on its task of safeguarding the welfare and interests of workers and broaden its remit to include other sectors where low-paid agency workers are at risk of exploitation.

In addition to the report, EHRC has created a set of in-depth findings about each of the main problem issues for agency workers in this sector and their recommendations to address them.

What EHRC found about the treatment of agency workers in this sector

Significant numbers of workers reported physical and verbal abuse and a lack of proper health and safety protection to the Inquiry, with the treatment of pregnant workers a particular concern. They found that many workers had little knowledge of their rights and feared raising concerns would lead to dismissal. While migrant workers were most affected, British agency workers also faced similar mistreatment.

The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories – some of which supply the UK's biggest supermarkets – and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions that flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.

However, the inquiry did find examples of good practice with firms treating permanent and agency workers of all nationalities with respect.

These firms benefitted as a result, by being able to attract and retain well motivated, loyal and increasingly skilled workers. They expressed frustration about the perceived ability of competitors to undercut them by acting unethically and unlawfully, and welcomed increased enforcement by regulators to create a level playing field.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.
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