Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW): Two shareholder resolutions have been filed by LUCRF Super (National Union of Workers superannuation fund) and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and are supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
In the past two years, allegations of labour rights violations in Woolworths’ supply chain have highlighted the company’s exposure to environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks. As outlined in the attached proxy advisory, media reports have raised allegations of working conditions that predominantly involve migrant workers and violate Woolworths’ ethical sourcing policy and Australian legislation.
- Underpayment and poor working conditions at key Woolworth suppliers, such as Lamattina, Cutri Fruit and Vizzarri Farms, where migrant workers have reported being paid below Australian award rates for casual horticultural workers and/or working overtime.
- Reliance on a vulnerable workforce, which includes recent border force and federal agent raids at several farms where workers were detained and has led to a test case seeking back-pay for migrant workers.
- Alleged violations of freedom of association, with migrant workers who expressed concerns about underpayments, excessive overtime, unsanitary conditions and/or unfair wage deductions and expressed interest in joining unions reporting retaliation.
Two shareholder resolutions address the legal, financial, operational and reputational risks that Woodworths faces as a result of these reports.
Special Resolution 7 (a) to amend the company’s constitution aligns the company’s constitution with global best practice, making it simpler for shareholders to voice concerns.
Contingent resolution 7 (b) – Human Rights Reporting proposes measures that can lead to early identification and mitigation of risks to shareholder value posed by adverse human rights impacts in operations and supply chains. It improves the company’s disclosure to investors on its compliance and risk management strategies.