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Global food retailers sign landmark Declaration with UNI to tackle Covid-19, others should follow


Global food retailers sign landmark Declaration with UNI to tackle Covid-19, others should follow

Multinational food retailers Auchan, Carrefour, Casino Group, Eroski and El Corte Inglés have signed a ground-breaking Declaration committing to work with UNI Global Union to protect supermarket workers and customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In ratifying the Joint Declaration, these food retailers – with a combined global workforce of a million workers – recognize the vital role of supermarket workers during the crisis and pledge to make worker safety a priority. The signatories also agree to work closely with UNI and its trade union affiliates around the world on measures to control the risks of Covid-19.

UNI is calling on more food retailers to sign the Declaration to achieve a collaborative global response to the pandemic. 

“Supermarket workers are putting their lives on the line while continuing to serve the public during the pandemic. Now, more than ever, employers and trade unions need to work together to best protect the health of supermarket workers and customers during this health crisis. Businesses in the food trade who join this initiative are taking a leadership role in confronting this pandemic, others must follow,” said Christy Hoffman, UNI General Secretary.

The Declaration calls for employers to work together with UNI Global Union and its affiliates  on measures such as improving rules on hygiene and safety, health regulations for stores, social support for employees (e.g. bonus pay for hazardous work and paid sick leave) and support for vulnerable workers, such as disabled workers and pregnant women.

“This crisis has shown how important retail workers are to keeping our communities fed and well-supplied, and it also shows the responsibility companies have to protect workers and customers. That’s why social support, such as paid leave for workers who are sick or under quarantine, is crucial. We can’t have workers putting their own health or the health of others at risk just because they can’t afford to stop working. That doesn’t help anyone,” said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce.

“In contrast, we need to compensate workers in food retail who are going above and beyond the call of duty, which is what Auchan and Carrefour have been doing,” he added.

The Declaration requires companies to share their action plans and best practices, which will be compiled by UNI and made available to companies and trade unions. In turn, UNI will inform companies immediately when safety issues are brought to its attention or discovered through our monitoring means.

“In this time of quarantine and social distancing, a simple trip to the grocery store can be a major risk to both a customer and worker. The public and the food trade workforce can take reassurances that trade unions and the companies that join this initiative are continuously looking to improve the health and welfare of workers and consumers during this crisis,” said Christy Hoffman.

UNI has also released guidelines for protective measures for workers in the food and grocery sector as a tool kit for trade union affiliates around the world.