ALDI releases first Modern Slavery Statement

ALDI Australia has released its first Modern Slavery Statement, highlighting at-risk areas in its supply chains and its efforts to tackle the issue.

The UN led International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates 25 million people are currently in forced labour, including private sectors such as agriculture and construction. This isn’t confined to developing countries, the ILO has found it is prevalent in Australia.

Among the areas the retailer identified as presenting a risk for modern slavery were non-food items produced in high-risk countries, such as textiles, footwear, homewares, electronics and toys. While food products including seafood, nuts, cocoa, coffee and tea were also deemed high-risk products.

ALDI further noted the outsourcing of production to business partners also brought with it a risk. It has mitigated by ensuring partners sourcing high-risk products from countries whose workers are at higher risk of exploitation adhere to their Social Monitoring Program, which promotes better working conditions, the compliance of which is monitored by a third party.

Manufacturing facilities in Myanmar and Bangladesh are also routinely visited and assessed for any breaches.

While in Australia, the use of labour intensive contactor services for trolley collection and cleaning services were noted as possible risks, as workers could be subject to informal, seasonal or temporary work. ALDI said it plans to conduct a Human Rights Risk Assessment on its Australian operations to better understand the risks and opportunities.

ALDI Australia CEO Tom Daunt said in the statement they were committed to monitoring their supply chains and working towards eradicating modern slavery.

“Forced labour and the exploitation of vulnerable workers are abuses of basic human rights and have no place in our business or supply chain. Preventing these from happening is a global, complex issue,” Mr Daunt said.

“As an international company with global supply chains, we embrace our responsibility to work to understand the guises of labour exploitation, to detect and address it effectively. The ALDI SOUTH Group, to which ALDI Australia belongs, is certain that long-term business success can only be ensured if human rights are acknowledged, respected, protected and fulfilled.”

Other initiatives include supporting Growcom’s Fair Farms Initiative, which promoted social and ethical employment standards across Australian fresh produce suppliers. They have also partnered with the Centre for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility to stop child labour, such as establishing free school holiday childcare for migrant workers in China, so they aren’t forced to bring them to work and left vulnerable to exploitation. As well as supporting organisations working across the garment supply chains.

The statement is the first issued by the retailer and follows the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which was introduced in Australia on January 1, 2019.

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