Sainsbury’s has promised ‘robust action’ to safeguard workers in its supply chain after sexual abuse was uncovered at a tea farm owned by one of its suppliers in Kenya.
An investigation by the BBC found evidence of long-running sexual abuse at the farm, which is owned by British company James Finlay & Co, and provides tea for Sainsbury’s own-brand Red Label range.
More than 70 women told the BBC about abuse they’d experienced at the Finlays Kenya farm, and at another formerly owned by Unilever.
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Finlays Kenya has since suspended two managers at the centre of allegations, saying in a statement the company had reported both managers to the police.
“An independent investigation has been launched to fully understand what happened and where we can improve,” the statement said.
There is no indication Sainsbury’s was aware of the abuse. However, the retailer has made significant public commitments to protect workers within its wider supply chain, as part of a framework named ‘Plan for better’ introduced last year – which includes commitments to tackle gender equality.
“These upsetting and horrific allegations have no place in our supply chain and we’re committed to ensuring all workers receive fair treatment and have a safe place to work,” a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said.
“We are working with our supplier and other retailers and will take robust action to safeguard workers in our tea supply chain.”
The news comes as Sainsbury’s is investigating flexible working as it looks to ‘evolve’ its current ways of working and is testing “new ways to be more efficient and offer improved flexibility”.