Second Event on "Better together: Retail Collaboration to Advance Living Wages in the Banana Sector"
An article by Talitha Loewe and Nicola Nuecken
On the 6th of December 2022 retailers from Germany (ALDI Nord, ALDI South Group, dm-drogerie markt, Kaufland, Lidl and REWE), the UK (ASDA, Co-op, Lidl GB, Morrisons Supermarkets, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose), Belgium (Colruyt Group, Lidl BE, Delhaize) and the Netherlands (CBL representing Albert Heijn, Dirk van den Borek, Jumbo and Superunie group) convened in Brussels and online to continue their discussion on alignment and collaboration on the topic of living wages in the banana sector. They were joined by representatives of Fairtrade International, FLOCERT, Rainforest Alliance, and the World Banana Forum.
After a successful kick-off event in Berlin in June, also co-organised by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit) and IDH, the second installment of the series focused on the issues of data verification and putting the agreed aligned timeframe for wage data collection into action.
New Commitment from Belgium Strengthens European Collaboration
The meeting began with updates on the progress of the different national initiatives. A highlight was a preview on the Belgian Banana Living Wage Commitment. The commitment was signed and announced the next day during the Living Wage Summit on December 7th. In total 5 Belgian retailers Aldi BE, Jumbo, Delhaize, Colruyt Group and Lidl Belgium and Luxemburg have committed themselves to close the living wage gap by the end of 2027 for their collective banana volumes sold on the Belgian market. It is the third commitment on European level after the Dutch (2019) and German (2020) one.
Further Steps Towards a Living Wage
After this, an aligned communication process for supply chain partners on wage data collection was agreed upon. The aligned timeline for the process was created to avoid supply chain partners having to meet requirements from different retailers at different points in time during the year and to allow for joint projects on Living Wages.
Further, lessons learned from wage data collection through the Salary Matrix in the past years and possible ways for data improvement were discussed. For this, the voluntary sustainability schemes Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade presented proposed plans to further support producers.
The last part of the meeting focused on procurement practices contributing to closing Living Wage gaps. First, updates on the tools to calculate and take measures to close gaps were presented: the IDH Salary Matrix, the Customized IDH Living Wage Action Guide and the GIZ Living Wage Costing Tool. Second, lessons learned from a previous session on Living Wage projects with supply chain partners were shared. This was followed by a learning exchange in smaller groups on how procurement practices can contribute to achieving living wages. Topics of discussion included the design and characteristics of voluntary contributions by retailers to close living wage gaps.
Reinforcement of Alignment and Further Collaboration
The event showed the continuing efforts made by each of the retailers individually and within their initiative, the search for common solutions, the launch of a new commitment, and reflected on the progress made. In order to achieve alignment at European level, easing the burden for producers and streamlining solutions, it is important to promote continued exchange. Therefore, learning events like this will continue in 2023 and beyond.