Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Website challenges supermarket's 'poor practices'

Anita Pati,

War on Want has created the Asda Watch website to expose the supermarket's alleged anti-union policies.

War on Want is launching an Asda Watch website this Friday as the charity steps up its campaign against what it claims are poor employment practices at the supermarket. has been set up to expose Asda's allegedly anti-union activities and the low prices it pays to overseas suppliers. Asda is owned by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retail corporation. The website, which follows War on Want's alternative report on Asda, published last year, says it is "dedicated to highlighting the bad policies of Asda Wal-Mart. We want supermarkets to use their size and power for the good of the community, not just for the good of shareholders."

War on Want wants the site to engage shoppers much as the Tescopoly website, to which it contributes, has done. Matthew McGregor, senior campaigns officer at the charity, said he hoped it would help consumers make informed ethical choices.

"On another level, we want the Government to see that ethical consumerism can only take us so far," he said. "We need regulation, which is why we are lobbying on the Company Law Reform Bill currently going through Parliament."

The site launch coincides with that of film maker Robert Greenwald's new documentary Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, which will be shown at cinemas from Friday.

The film criticises Newham Council's planned sale of the 105-year-old Queen's Road Market in London's East End to make way for an Asda superstore that it says could threaten the livelihoods of scores of market traders.

On Friday, War On Want will also publish the results of an opinion poll on people's views of supermarket profits, pay and practices.

Events begin tonight with a debate at the House of Commons hosted by Labour MP Jim Dowd, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops. War on Want will also hold screenings and talks at trade union conferences including the GMB gathering in June - the most relevant to Asda employees.

"We're not trying to say Wal-Mart is the most evil corporation in the world," said McGregor. "But we're saying people have concerns about supermarkets generally, and this is an example of supermarkets using their power to maximise profits rather than support suppliers or employees."

An Asda spokeswoman said: "We accept Wal-Mart has many opponents. However, over the past 18 months the company has actively engaged with even its harshest critics to understand their point of view so it can change the way it does business."

She added that the film included "a lot of inaccuracies".


- War on Want is launching the Asda Watch website to highlight the supermarket's allegedly poor employment practices. The site can be seen at

- The site launch is timed to coincide with Robert Greenwald's new documentary Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, on release from Friday

- War On Want will also publish the results of a consumer opinion poll on Friday on supermarket profit, pay and employment practices

- Events will kick off tonight with a screening and debate at the House of Commons.

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