02/01/2019 | supply chain slavery,modern slavery, World Food Day,House of Commons

Supply chain slavery

Having spent some of my career in procurement I have always been fascinated by supply chains and the ability to save my company large sums of money by playing suppliers off against one another.

Price crunching is the key deliverable of any procurement personnel. We’re the annoying person who looks at your campaign and says 'nope, you can’t have it, it’s too expensive!' or 'obtain three independent quotes before approaching me with your idea'. It’s fair to say we get a bit of a kick out of the power money-saving brings – well, I did anyway!

My fascination soon changed to remorse when I listened to MP Kerry McCarthy’s arguments on World Food Day in relation to supply chains and slavery. It’s fair to say the domino effect of consequences that bidding strategies can bring, leaves quite a sour taste in your mouth.

You think that your price cutting effort stops there at your supplier, but the reality is far more disturbing. That cut might be passed on down the supply chain from your supplier to their supplier, and then to their supplier and so on. That small number crunch can have a devastating impact by the time it gets to the bottom.

Modern day slavery is, as the name states – not a thing of the past. It’s very much found in the present and deceitfully hidden behind closed doors.

MP Kerry McCarthy brought to light some horrific examples of modern day slavery in her debate in The House of Commons on 16th October to mark World Food Day.

Examples included:

· Lithuanian workers trafficked to work in a UK meat processing plant and subjected to violence.

· Cornish farm workers forced to live in squalid caravans.

· An Irish permit scheme that saw African and Asian men trafficked onto trawlers ‘too scared to speak up’.

· Thai seafood sector workers who were tortured, hand-fed methamphetamines to keep them working longer and then their exhausted, lifeless bodies tossed overboard.

The impact those facts have made on me as an individual is quite astonishing and my view on price crunching has very much altered.

That’s not to say that I’m against the odd price cut or the protocol of obtaining three quotes to compare and still achieve a small price discount in the interest of the company or our client, but what it has made me do is check our Modern Slavery policy plus that of each of our suppliers; I’m proud to assert that we are fully compliant and so are all of our current suppliers and thank goodness for that!

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