Sunday, 24 April 2011

The vast influence of Tesco in todays society

As many of you will be aware one of our biggest supermarkets if not our biggest in the UK Tesco dominate the high street in many towns and cities. We now have a case where we get what are called "tesco towns" where the influenceand the role a Tesco has is unrivaled in a town.

I found this set of facts about Tesco from the excellent Tescopoly website which you can check out here

1) 1 in every 7 pounds spent in the UK in 2007 was spent in Tesco

2) Tesco use their monopoly power to squeeze farmers hard. A Competition Commission investigation revealed that Tesco consistently pay suppliers nearly 4% below the average price paid by other retailers. There isn’t much evidence they pass these savings to consumers – they just pocket the profits.

3) Research by ActionAid found workers in Costa Rica producing bananas for export to all major UK supermarkets earning 33p an hour. This wage is so low that they cannot afford to take an hour off when dangerous pesticides are being sprayed on the crops.

4) Unite the Union have a long running campaign against Tesco over the terrible treatment of workers in their meat supply chain.

5) The New Economics Foundation have shown that fresh fruit and veg is, on average, 30% cheaper at a street market than it is in a supermarket. However, through short term aggressive pricing when they first move into an area, Tesco often shuts down these markets, reducing access to fresh fruit and veg for the poorest.

6) Tesco offer their best deals in out of town shopping centres rather than their city centre stores. This not only encourages driving, but also excludes those without cars – mostly, poorer people.

7) In the 5 years to 2002, an average of 50 local food shops were lost in the UK every week, largely due to the Tesco takeover.

8 ) Tesco is Europe’s biggest property company. In 2007 they were sitting on property assets worth £28bn.

9) Tesco are not a net creator of jobs. Because they aggressively force local shops out of business, and then provide the minimal possible service to customers, on average, every time a large supermarket opens, 276 jobs are lost.

10) Between 2003 and 2007 the Labour Party accepted donations of £54,194 from Tesco.

Unions have raised serious concerns about conditions for workers employed along supermarket supply chains in the UK. Pay and working conditions can be negatively affected as supermarkets squeeze suppliers for goods at lower prices or relocate in search of cheaper products. The major food retailers can exert undue pressure on suppliers causing job losses in food processing companies that simply cannot produce goods at the prices Tesco and their competitors wish to pay.

Unite has been campaigning in Supermarket supply chains such as the Red and White Meat Sectors since December 2007. This began by publicising the harsh conditions many workers in the UK experience when employed by companies supplying meat to some of the major Supermarkets. Unite then undertook a campaign against Tesco’s abuse of power over the Meat supply chains through the ‘Tesco: Every Workers Counts’ campaign. Unite works towards its ultimate goal of ensuring the highest ethical standards in the treatment of customers and to insist upon the highest ethical standards for workers employed by companies throughout the supply chain. For more
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) meat sector inquiry
In March 2010 the EHRC released its findings from its "Inquiry into recruitment and employment in the meat and poultry processing sector". The report reveals evidence of the widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the sector, and makes recommendations including supermarkets improving their auditing of suppliers; processing firms and agencies improving recruitment practices, working environments and the ability of workers to raise issues of concern; and for the government to provide sufficient resources for the Gangmasters’ Licensing Agency to help safeguard the welfare and interests of workers.

The Commission will review action taken over the next 12 months by supermarkets, processing firms and recruitment agencies, and will consider taking enforcement action if necessary.

The Commission launched its first ever Inquiry into a key sector of the economy in October 2008, focusing on the UK's multi-billion pound meat industry for evidence of employment abuse and discrimination. The meat sector is a significant industry employing some 40,000 workers across Britain engaged in processing and packaging meat for sale in supermarkets and retailers.

Tesco's profits are in very stark contrast with the suppliers who have been squeezed. In 2006 the T&G announced it was forming a national co-ordinating committee to bring together its shop stewards across the Tesco empire. The initiative was the first step on the road to fighting for jobs and decent pay, terms and conditions in the country's top supermarket. Shop stewards report pressures to make efficiency savings as well as demands to give up hard won pay and working conditions in order to be admitted into the Tesco pension schemes. According to Ron Webb, T&G national secretary for transport, "Unbelievable though it may be, Tesco is actually looking to make job cuts on the day it claims to be the consumers' friend. We do not accept these cuts are either necessary or ethical. How can a multi-billion pound outfit attack the pay, terms and conditions of those people it relies on to get its goods to the stores?"

The major supermarket chains have announced numerous environmental initiatives. Tesco announced a Community Plan including an Environment Fund of £100 million in a speech by Terry Leahy in May 2006, and have continued to announce further plans since then, including carbon labelling of their products.

Despite the many benefits of these initiatives, it remains the case that Tesco's size and growth, its numerous unsustainable products, and its impact on independent retailers stop it from being a truly green company. The same is true of the other large chains. With larger numbers of car-based hypermarkets and food being sourced from around the world, and trucked around the UK, these companies continue to damage the environment.

and press release on the environment fund and waste. George Monbiot in his book "Turn up the Heat" suggests that the increasing trend of individuals and companies showing their green credentials, is often green-wash hiding real environmental costs.

Some of supermarkets' environmental costs include:

• The food industry is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore has a massive part to play in tackling climate change. The bulk of these emissions come from food production. Tesco and the other supermarkets must do more to make sure that their production lines are sustainable - this needs to be prioritised above paying farmers the lowest possible prices. Research by Friends of the Earth has shown that low prices have reduced farmers' ability to produce food in environmentally friendly ways. This needs to stop.

•Fewer local farmers and shops mean both customers and goods need to be transported further. This means more pollution from cars, as people drive further to shop, and more pollution from aircraft and lorries, as food is transported from around the world. Indeed Tesco's business could be seen as one of the drivers behind the rise in UK CO2 emissions. More needs to be done to support local, seasonal produce - something that independent shops and supermarkets are well suited to. On the other hand, a 2005 Friends of the Earth survey found that Tesco came lowest out of the supermarket chains for sourcing British apples.

•Tesco's store sizes means they are some of the most energy-inefficient buildings in the retail sector. A Sheffield Hallam University study found that despite the new stock, large superstores are the most energy inefficient buildings in the sector. It would take more than 60 corner shops and greengrocers to match the carbon dioxide emissions from one average sized superstore. Although they are taking steps to increase efficiency, their commitment to building yet more stores means that these savings will be cancelled out.

•Tesco also encourages shoppers to travel by car. One in 10 car journeys in the UK are now to buy food. Work for DEFRA suggests that car use for food shopping results in costs to society of more than £3.5 billion per year from traffic emissions, noise, accidents and congestion. Tesco has been massively expanding into "Extra" format hypermarkets, which are particularly geared towards car-based shopping. The proportion of Tesco's floorspace taken up by hypermarkets is three times what it was 6 years ago.

•Tesco boasts about its progress on reducing waste and how it is following a market trend to introduce degradable plastic bags. But grocery packaging still makes up roughly a quarter of household waste, and the UK's biggest supermarkets distribute billions of plastic bags, which end up in landfill. Even degradable bags do not help, as they will still predominantly go to landfill sites where the lack of sunlight and oxygen will hinder rapid breakdown. To make a real difference the supermarkets need to stop handing out free bags altogether.

•A large amount of food is being wasted. Tesco was among the supermarkets found to be rejecting apples purely on cosmetic grounds by a 2002 Friends of the Earth survey of fruit growers.

•Biofuels - Tesco is a major shareholder in and customer of Greenergy Biofuels Limited, a UK company promising customers climate-friendly, sustainable biofuels from UK rapeseed oil. The organisation BiofuelWatch has, however, undertaken research which reveals that Greenergy's biofuels contain increasing amounts of palm oil, soy and sugar cane. All three are crops linked to large-scale rainforest destruction, massive greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and peat and forest fires, and in some instances to human rights abuses.

SO Tesco who was the focus of a recent squatter protest in Stokes Croft last week as some of you who follow the news will have read and this is a sign of people saying enough is enough with more and more of these stores opening up every year.

Critics said they did not want the area to lose its local character and feared smaller shops would find their businesses threatened.

But Tesco said evidence showed that opening such a store could bring shoppers back to an area and help local traders.

Robin Markwell from BBC Radio Bristol, who spent several hours outside the building, said campaigners in the street had been shouting support to the squatters on the roof.

There had been one or two minor scuffles involving protesters and police outside. The atmosphere was "relatively calm", he said.

Bristol City Council has approved the change of use for the building.

A protest took place at the site in February.

Claire Milne, who represents the group No Tesco in Stokes Croft, told the BBC last month that the area was "a melting pot of independent traders" who may have to close if they are unable to compete with the multi-national company.

Bushra Randhawa, a postmaster and resident for 24 years, said last month: "It's taken a huge effort from local groups, traders and the community to regenerate this area.

"Only now does it feel like a real community spirit is developing.

"This move will take us two steps backwards when we need to take two steps forward."

As the eviction got under way, a Tesco spokesman said: "We're keen to invest in the area. Many local people we've spoken to tell us they are eager to see a Tesco Express at this site.

"Our store will create approximately 20 new jobs and provide shopping facilities for hundreds of local residents.

"The squatters, who were illegally occupying the building, were asked to leave but refused.

"High Court enforcement officers are removing them from the premises with the support of the police

So i go back to one of my points i've made before that this sort of protest and anger at such a plan by Tesco is down to the brutal nature of capitalism where their drive for profit and bigger dividends for their directors is paramount. If we were to see the top 300 monopolies including the likes of Tesco nationalised by a socialist government and brought in to public ownership under workers control the rich's of these companies would cease going striaght to the top but instead be reinvested in the workers paying them a good living wage for the area they live in. Allowing trade union involvement at a advanced scale to work alongside the workers who will run these monopolies for the many not just the few who cream off the profits year in year out.

Only this way will the power and greed of companies just like Tesco be controlled more equally for the benifit of all of society not just their directors who are dam right greedy.

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