A petition urging Lidl to do more to protect workers was presented to the supermarket’s head office in Wimbledon last week by campaigners dressed as giant fruit and vegetables.

They also brought a spoof logo to hold at the entrance, reading ‘Big on talk, Lidl on action’. The campaigners walked down from the Oxfam shop in The Broadway on the way to Worple Road, speaking to members of the public about the campaign.

The ongoing petition is part of Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes campaign which aims to improve the lives of people around the world producing food for supermarkets. In the UK, the campaign is focused on the six major UK supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl.

Wimbledon Times:

Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam ethical trade manager, said: “Human suffering should play no part in the food on any supermarket shelf.

"Lidl has the least policies in place to protect the workers who grow and process its food, lagging behind the other five UK supermarkets.”

Lidl is currently bottom of Oxfam’s scorecard which assesses the policies and practices needed to ensure that human and labour rights are fully respected in the supermarkets’ global food supply chains. Based on Oxfam's scorecard, Lidl has an overall score of just nine percent and has made the least progress since it was launched last year.

Wimbledon Times:

Ms Wilshaw added: “Our research shows that supermarkets, including Lidl, are snapping up the lion’s share of the price we pay at the till.

"But the workers who toil for hours to harvest products such as tea and fruit face inhumane working conditions and are paid so little they can’t put enough food on the table for their own families. All of the supermarkets need to do more to protect the workers in their international supply chains, end exploitation and pay a living wage.”

In response to these concerns, Lidl issued the below statement:

At Lidl, we operate with a fundamental respect for the rights of the people we interact with, whether they be our own direct employees, contract workers or people employed throughout our supply chains, and are firmly opposed to all forms of labour exploitation.

We are driving improvements in labour standards across our supply chain and improving transparency around working conditions. In the past year we have taken some significant steps and made strong external commitments, including the publication of our human rights policy and disclosure of our governance structure to ensure full accountability. We are also proud to have been one of the first retailers to make public a list of over 500 main suppliers’ production facilities for textiles, footwear and priority food products. Additionally, we are taking steps to promote gender equality, both within our own workforce and our supply chains as we understand this to be an area where greater progress needs to be made within our industry as a whole. For this reason, we are proud to be signatories of the UN Women's Empowerment Principles to promote gender equality and women's empowerment,

At Lidl GB we have made significant steps to bring greater flexibility into the work place and create opportunities for women at Lidl to develop and progress within the business. This includes the implementation of a 'Diversity and Inclusion' working group that continues to explore initiatives to attract, retain and support female talent within the business. Within our global supply chains our 'Supplier Code of Conduct' bans any form of discrimination, including gender. We disclose gender related supply chain data as part of our annual reporting processes and have implemented programmes with local partners in key supply chains, which include supporting female cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire to improve productivity and female coffee producers in Guatemala to promote climate change resilience.

Whilst we do not believe the scorecard represents a wholly accurate reflection of the progress that’s being made by Lidl GB, we recognise that, in addition to ensuring that all of our work is publicly documented, there’s more we and the industry must continue to do. This is why we have committed to undertaking human rights impact assessments over the coming year, to better understand the issues faced by workers in the far reaches of our supply chain. We are committed to working collaboratively with Oxfam, the wider industry and expert partners to drive further improvements throughout our supply chains, both in the UK and internationally.