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Retailers and suppliers in the UK food processing industry Caroline Lloyd ESRC centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) School.

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Presentation on theme: "Retailers and suppliers in the UK food processing industry Caroline Lloyd ESRC centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) School."— Presentation transcript:

1 Retailers and suppliers in the UK food processing industry Caroline Lloyd ESRC centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) School of Social Science Cardiff University

2 Supply chain pressures Beaumont et al. (1996) Direct: imposed by customer, e.g. company audits, minimum standards, inspections etc. Indirect: changing customer demands impacts on suppliers, e.g. JIT, quality standards, cutting costs.

3 Food processing sector Top 10 retailers 85% of sales & Big Four – Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Morrisons – 62% of grocery sales Increase in migrant workers & agency (Defra estimates 150,000 agency workers filling 40,000 jobs – 90% from overseas) Low pay: 20% earn £10 ph) in 2008 Long hours (20% of men work > 48 hours/week) Predominantly low skilled, over 1/2 no qualifications/level 1 High levels of repetitive movements, short-cycle times

4 Health and Safety Record Injury rate/100,000 worker (2006/07): manufacturing = 925 food and drink = 1526 Food & drink : rate dropped by 45% since 1990 Source: HSE

5 Meat & poultry products (1409/100,000) Main causes of injury Being struck by hand tools including knives Manual handling and lifting - especially lifting heavy and awkward loads Slips - mostly due to wet or greasy floors Main occupational ill health risks Musculoskeletal injury from manual handling Work-related upper limb disorders from repetitive work Noise induced hearing loss from noisy areas Source: HSE

6 M1M2M3 Plant direct employment Agency workersup to 150up to 100up to 70 % female33% (2 plants)37%10% % retailer own label95% (2 supermarkets) 100% (2 supermarkets) 80% (1 supermarket) Profit margins last six yearsLess than 3%Around 1%Loss to less than 1% Approximate union membership 42% (two plants)40%50% (includes agency workers) Management commitmentConsiderableSomeLittle UnionsEmbeddedFragmented/ weakActive individual Accidents (relative)FewSomeMany Job rotationSystematic Limited Key characteristics of case study plants

7 H & S outcomes Accidents M1 - rare M2 – infrequent, eg. slips M3 – frequent eg. cuts, scalds, electrocution All plants: occupational ill health Muscle injuries Back/ neck/ arms Mental health issues Bronchitis Wrist problems Shoulder

8 Supply chain: direct Over-riding concern with food hygiene Audits & some supermarkets do spot checks Pressure to be within industry norms Better food hygiene can improve h&s

9 Supply chain: indirect i) cost pressures we are very cost focused because they keep squeezing us so weve got to keep managing cost within the operation to be able to give them the prices they want but still make a living for ourselves (HRM manager M1). my job as well as the rest of the guys jobs is how do we do it better in the factory to then compensate for the fact that the retailers continue to put the thumb screws on to drive the prices that we sell the product to them down. (General Manager, M2)

10 Outcomes And its a lot faster moving… I think they are under a lot more pressure in the factory, you know, probably lines have been turned up that little bit and theyve been expected to work a lot harder, or a lot faster (HR Officer M2) Its more products coming through… whereas before we were killing 800 a day to 1,000 a day, we kill up to 1,200, 1,300 a day. So. And no extra money. People are shattered… we are getting lots of problems (union shop steward, M3).

11 Supply chain: indirect ii) Delivery pressures One of the problems we have in this business is its, not only is it seasonal, but it can fluctuate by 100% from day to day because the sales figures that you get are terrible. … And thats where we have struggled, we struggle to manage overtime… we have to say to people at ten oclock at night Do you mind staying on till two oclock in the morning to help process these products that will need to be on a lorry at seven. Thats the problem we are in, its the supermarkets that are driving this business. (Factory Manager, M2) [agency workers] its just an easy turn on of the tap. (Production manager, M1)

12 Impact on h&s there are minor things which could be dealt with in five minutes and yet it doesnt happen… I think like most factories getting the product out of the door is the most important thing and everything else is secondary (shop steward, M2) it seems to me thats a price they are willing to pay to get that extra production… I think, you know, that health and safety has been sacrificed for the need to actually produce more (Union regional officer, M3)

13 Impact on h&s: agency workers he [young Polish trainee] said I go on holiday tomorrow, whats the point of me going in there [where they cut the backbone out] for 1 or 2 hours and the supervisor say get your backside in there, you do it, pressure and pressure and he took his finger straight off within five minutes of doing the job… So thats what we call training (Shop steward, M3) A foreign boy… about six months ago and he admitted it was his own fault because he was told not to push the minis [fillets] and he did and he injected straight in his finger, very painful, 3 weeks of work (operative trainer, M2)

14 Management and unions: room for manoeuvre? Entrenched unions + commitment from management (M1) you go to your union rep and say look, or when they walk through the department and you say Ive got a problem, such and such and he will get in touch with the health and safety bloke [rep]… and he we say right sorted it and it is sorted (Operative M1) Weak unions + some commitment from management (M2) they [management] told me Id close the factory down if I continued the way I was doing but I said Im not apologising for doing the job right… I am sure they would like to get rid of me. (Union rep, M2 after calling the HSE) Active individual union rep + low commitment management (M3) We have improved health and safety over the last few years by 70% I reckon. Weve stopped a lot of cuts, major cuts, arteries. Because weve now got, we brought in chain mail gloves, what you call a cutters sleeve which is if your knife slips it doesnt cut it (Union rep, M3)

15 Conclusions Direct pressures can have a positive impact Direct pressures can have a positive impact Indirect – hindrance to h&s Indirect – hindrance to h&s Unions and/or management can make a difference even where pressures are intense Unions and/or management can make a difference even where pressures are intense Can supply chains be used to improve h&s? Can supply chains be used to improve h&s?


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