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Choose Fair Shops

08 Jul 2013

‘Fair Shop is about making an informed consumer choice and about putting workers and responsible employers first for a change’

EACH day as consumers we are faced with a bewildering diversity of choice about what to buy and where to shop.

Major retailers spend hundreds of millions, billions even, on high-end advertising and eye-catching branding to try and persuade you – the shopper – where you should spend your hard-earned cash.

But one option we tend to overlook as shoppers is choosing to Spend Your Money Where Workers Count.

Mandate has launched a new and exciting campaign that could revolutionise the way you shop.

This is designed to give you – the consumer – the valuable option of spending your money and supporting retailers that respect the rights of their employees.

Welcoming the innovative drive, Mandate General Secretary John Douglas said it was designed to “promote a value” for retailers by highlighting the advantages of “respecting workers and offering them a decent living income”.

ETHICAL

He added: “Fair Shop is a modern ethical consumerism campaign. It is built primarily on the principle of putting workers first for a change.  We would call on consumers to shop with a conscience, back the campaign and support workers’ rights.”

The idea behind Fair Shop is not new – in fact, you could say it’s 100 years old.

Just look at the archived minutes of the Twentieth Annual Trades Congress held in the City Hall, Cork, in May 1913.

One of the motions debated at the congress concerned “Trades Union Shops”.

According to the records, delegates T Johnson and A Doran argued for the need for unions to use the ethical buying strength of consumers to further workers’ rights.

We feel sure comrades Johnson and Doran would have wholeheartedly thrown their backing behind the current Fair Shop campaign.

Nowadays, Fair Shops recognise their employees’ rights to join a trade union and afford them full collective bargaining rights.

We believe these rights are fundamental and basic and well worth supporting with your spending power.

One of the key objectives of Fair Shop is to support and promote quality employment in the retail sector by encouraging consumers who care about workers’ rights to choose Fair Shop companies and their local stores.

Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light told Shopfloor: “As many trade unionists will undoubtedly testify, very few – if any – relationships between an employer, their employees and their union is ever perfect.

“Disagreements happen from time to time but Fair Shop transcends the day-to-day drudgery of industrial relations and acknowledges those employers who ‘do the right thing’.”

And we hope Ireland’s 800,000 trade union members, their families and supporting organisations will also “do the right thing”.

They can make an informed choice by checking out a Fair Shop in their local area and by making ethical purchases on a regular basis. In recent years, there have been increasing assaults on workers’ rights, pay and conditions of service by many unscrupulous employers. Mr Light said: “These employers have sought to gain an unfair and financial advantage over those competitors that do respect their employees’ entitlements.

“This approach needs to be challenged across the retail sector by the spending power of thousands of ethically-minded consumers.”

As trade unionists and as responsible citizens we should be making the “informed choice” each time we make a retail purchase. Fair Shop not only provides the information needed by consumers to make the choice of spending money where workers count much easier but it also demonstrates to retailers the importance of recognising the rights of workers to join and be represented by a trade union.

Our use of collective and individual consumer power has the very real potential to improve conditions for workers across the retail sector and Fair Shop provides the basic information required for you to make those ethical purchasing decisions.

Over the coming months and in the years ahead, Fair Shop will develop brand recognition and strength by working alongside Fair Shop retailers and by encouraging 800,000 workers and their families on this island to shop Fair.

Our intention is clear, we wish to acknowledge those employers who ‘do business’ with their employees on issues such as pay, decent contracts and terms and conditions and we jointly commit with these employers to support and promote quality jobs and decent work in the retail industry in Ireland.

VALUE

Describing the initial reaction to the campaign as “fantastic”, National Coordinator Brian Forbes told Shopfloor: “Already many Fair Shop-nominated employers seeing the value in the initiative have been talking to Mandate about developing brand awareness and promoting joint actions.”

As an integral part and the driving force behind the Fair Shop initiative, a website – www.fairshop.ie – has been launched.

The site is compatible with all modern Smartphone technology and is running regular Fair Shop promotions that are only accessible on the site.  

It also features a list of Fair Shop employers and supporters. Added to that the campaign also has dedicated Facebook and Twitter social networking pages.

Mr Forbes added: “Importantly from a consumer’s point of view – the site incorporates a Fair Shop location finder so you have no excuse for being unable to locate a Fair Shop locally.       

“Fair Shop is about making the informed consumer choice and about putting workers and responsible employers first for a change. It’s plain and simple....It’s about Spending Your Money Where Workers Count.”

For more information about Fair Shop contact info@fairshop.ie