How well does your supermarket treat its suppliers?

custom_text_delivery_truck_13837Tesco, Iceland, and Morrisons are the worst of the big supermarkets when it comes to dealing with their suppliers.

That’s according to a confidential survey carried out for the Groceries Code Adjudictor.

Aldi, Waitrose , and Marks and Spencer received top marks for adhering to best practice on things like prompt payment and handling complaints.

The survey report describes a culture of fear among suppliers many of whom feel they have to accept bullying tactics from supermarket buyers for fear of retribution.

Overall  last year 70% of suppliers had been treated in ways that breached the industry’s code, a drop from 79% the previous year.

Almost 10% more, at 47%, were willing to complain about issues like late payments, having to pay over the odds for packaging specified by the supermarket, demands for lump sums, and penalties for trivial complaints from shoppers.

There is a slow a problem with what is called “drop and drive” where suppliers’ consignments aren’t receipted properly leading to disputes over payment.

The majority don’t complain because they fear retribution and don’t have the confidence that the adjudicator will maintain confidentiality.

The industry adjudicator, Christine Tacon, can levy fines of up to 1% of UK turnover. Her first target was Tesco where it was found that they had booked millions of pounds profit  for in-store marketing and seasonal promotions and which led to a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

The Times asked supermarkets for a response.

Tesco said “Suppliers are at the heart of our business and we’ve been working with them to change the way in which we work together“.

Morrisons said “We are listening to the information from the survey although we don’t believe it reflects the generally positive nature of our relationships with our suppliers”.

Iceland declined to comment.

Suppliers who say supermarkets fail to meet code of conduct (YouGov survey)

  1. Tesco 39%
  2. Iceland 30%
  3. Morrisons 30%
  4. Co-op 25%
  5. Asda 15%
  6. Waitrose 12%
  7. Lidl 11%
  8. M & S 10%
  9. Sainsbury’s 9%
  10. Aldi 6%

See other posts about supermarkets and chickens, wines, prices, and junk food

First posted in June 2015

Domestic abuse now a criminal offence in the UK

P1000496Controlling or coercive behaviour became a crime last week punishable by up to 5 years in prison under s76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said “Being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation and subordination can be as harmful as physical abuse with many victims stating that it had a more lasting impact”

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional

I posted last week on this subject not realising this amendment to the law was due. India Knight wrote about it in the Sunday Times describing such psychological abuses as seeking to break (someone’s) spirit – their soul. And being the weapon of choice of the truly low.

Well that’s one way to describe these bullies. I can think of other ways to describe them. And like all bullies they need to be stood up to and this new law will perhaps add some teeth to that.

The CPS can accept evidence in e-mails, from bank accounts and witness statements from friends and family. The changes in the law have been welcomed by Women’s Groups and other campaigners.

Domestic abuse. Where does it start?

bully_picking_fight_1600_wht_11656-2Just over a year ago I posted on this topic following comments from Seema Malhotra the then shadow minister for preventing violence against women and girls.

As it’s that time of year when people often think about making changes in their lives I thought it worth re-posting with an updated checklist.

Malhotra had said that undermining someone’s self-esteem, for example, could be part of a broader pattern of behaviour, “Psychological abuse can be an indicator of physical abuse in the future or an indication of physical abuse that has happened in the past”.

It can be a part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that leaves people feeling fearful and terrorised in their own homes”.

And that could include being critical of someone’s appearance e.g. saying they look fat or their clothes are not trendy enough, or anything done to control or undermine someone.

Domestic abuse is usually thought of as something men do to women but it can be the other way round and affects people from all backgrounds and ethnicity. It’s estimated that 12 million women and 2.6 million men have been victims of domestic abuse with 30% of women experiencing it since they were sixteen years of age.

It is now the single biggest category of offence in Britain comprising almost 10% of the Crown Prosecution Service’s workload. The figures for harassment rose 13% last year (2013) but the number of prosecutions dropped as victims failed to attend court or retracted their evidence.

The government has a new initiative about abuse which you can read about here.

I reblogged a post a while ago which listed the ways you can be abused but it has disappeared. But here is a list based on one from an organisations which supports SaferLancashire. There will be similar organisations in your area.

  • Are you afraid of your partner?
  • Do you feel as if you have to walk on eggshells to avoid your partner getting angry?
  • Do you get emotional abuse such as insults, belittling comments, ignoring you, sulking or anger when you suggest doing something?
  • Are you told who you can be friends with?
  • Are you told how you should dress?
  • Does your partner try to control other aspects of your life?
  • Does your partner get jealous for no reason?
  • Is your partner physically abusive e.g. grabbing or pushing you not just hitting you, to get their own way?
  • Does your partner have extreme mood swings to the extent you have had to  modify your behaviour to avoid them?
  • Does your partner make all the financial decisions or control your money?
  • Do you find it impossible to express your own opinions and ideas because you fear an angry response?

Saying YES to 2 or more of these may mean you are in an abusive relationship.

You have a right to feel safe. Contact your local helpline in confidence NOW! Don’t let a bully ruin your life.

Self-obsessed English kids among unhappiest in the world

bullying_a_kid_1600_wht_904910 – 12 year old kids in England feel worse about going to school every day than almost every other country in the world

They felt worse than children in Algeria, Ethiopia and Romania  – according to the Good Childhood Report 2015 – a research project carried out on 53,000 children by the Children’s Society and the University of York, .

Only children in Germany, Estonia andSouth Korea are more unhappy.

The results are attributed to bullying and peer pressure to look good.

More than a third of English pupils said they had been physically bullied in the previous month and more than half said they had experienced low-level bullying by being excluded from activities by other children or being taunted or belittled.

English children were also particularly dissatisfied with their appearance with girls twice as unhappy as boys about how they looked. Only South Korea came below England in how girls felt happy about their bodies and appearance compared with the rest of the world (in this case 15 countries but not including America, Russia or Japan). Girls in Columbia were happiest with their bodies.

Social media was felt to be exacerbating the problems as teenagers compare themselves with perfect images they see online.

I think Facebook and similar social networking sites, the success of reality TV shows where talentless but good-looking people get rich, the rise of selfies and the increase in narcissistic behaviour all plays its part.

You can probably add the ease of access to pornography with boys having unrealistic expectations of girls, sexting and the over-sexualisation of young girls into the mix too.

The Children’s Society produced a report in 2013 on how miserable older teenagers were  so this is nothing new, just a younger age group.

Bullying and poor body image are known to contribute to poor mental health among young people and the director of the charity Young Minds thought the results showed that adults in Britain were neglecting their children. “We just cannot ignore that in Britain so many children are suffering. These findings must not be dismissed as simply an inevitable part of growing up. Children in England are worryingly falling a long way behind in their level of happiness in comparison to other countries and action must be taken to address this

Maybe some parents do neglect their children but there is also plenty of evidence of indulgent adults “over parenting” their kids and not helping them prepare for adult life.

In fact the survey showed that English children ranked about half-way in the group of 15 countries when it came to friendships and family relationships.

The Children’s Society want it to become a legal requirement for schools to provide counselling as in Wales and Northern Ireland. They also want schools to do more to tackle bullying and promote exercise.

They said “Schools should be a safe haven, not a battleground. Despite a long period of austerity we are one of the richest nations in the world yet the happiness of our children is at rock bottom. They are unhappy at school and are struggling with their appearance and self-confidence

Certainly bullying is unacceptable and should be stamped out but when schoolchildren have no respect for their teachers and there are no real punishments available it’s an uphill task. Fortunately there is evidence that bullying may not be a totally negative experience for everybody.

The National Union of Teachers blames the “exam factory culture” which doesn’t help children to thrive and marks some out as failures early on in their education.

The Department for Education said  schools should be “happy, safe and supportive places” for children. “Bullying of any kind is unacceptable and all schools must have measures in place to tackle it. That is why we providing more than £7 million to help schools tackle bullying head on

We are also promoting greater use of counselling in schools, improving teaching about mental health, and supporting joint working between mental health services and schools. This will ensure children will thrive inside and out of the classroom

FYI There are over 8 million children in almost 24,500 schools in England. £7 million pounds is peanutsless than £300 per school! Primary school heads are paid an average of £52,000 a year and secondary heads an average of £73,000 a year but many earn a lot more. £300 wouldn’t pay a teacher or counsellor for a week.

Future-proofing your health

looking_in_mirror_successful_1600_wht_5648Scientists have found that making behavioural changes now can significantly improve your health in 20 years time.

They reached these conclusions after following thousands of people over a twenty year period to see what impact diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices made.

Exercise

Gentle and sustained exercise every day is good for your brain and can cut the risk of developing dementia by 40% according to a study that tracked people in a community in Framingham, Massachusetts since 1948.

A 20 year study into female nurses found that those who walked  30 minutes a day scored significantly better on mental-health tests.

However three years down the line the advice for a healthy heart is that it’s not good enough just to exercise – it  has to be intense.

Danish researchers recently reported a study of 10,000 adults in the BMJ which showed that a daily power walk or jog could cut the risk of heart disease by 50% whereas a slow amble made no difference.

The fast walking halved the risk of metabolic syndrome – a collection of factors such as a bulging midriff, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood fat levels – and jogging reduced it by 50%.

Generally the more effort you put into your exercise the better. Some experts say two 60-second workouts a week can reduce the risk of heart disease from middle-age onwards. The participants in one study did all-out 6 second sprints 6 times increasing to 10 times.

They lost 1kg without changing their diet or other activities but more importantly their cardiovascular function was improved after just 8 weeks. It suggests that HIT can have a significant impact on obesity and heart disease.

On the other hand yoga is an excellent way of reducing tension, reduces bmi, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Research at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam shows that regular yoga can be as effective as strenuous forms of exercise when it comes to heart health. For patients with existing heart disease taking medication the benefits were even greater.

So if you can’t do high intensity training (HIT)or have a pre-existing heart condition yoga sounds like the ideal solution.

Eating meat

Eating even small amounts of processed meat like bacon, sausages, or salami, can increase your likelihood of  dying prematurely by 20% according to research at Harvard based on 100,000 people over 28 years.

Unprocessed red meat also carries a health risk. Daily servings of red meat (85g) over the length of the study brought an 18% increased risk of dying from heart disease, a 10% increased risk of dying from cancer and eating 100g a day increased the risk of diabetes by 19%.

Red meat is considered dangerous because steak often contains high amounts of saturated fat and salami and bacon contain high amounts of salt.

The BHF is reviewing its guidance on fat however and suggests you eat a healthy range of fats including the saturated type you find in lean meat and some dairy; along with fats from nuts, avocados, oily fish and seeds.

Replacing red meat with poultry, fish, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods could cut your risk of dying prematurely by 20%.

Eating naturally occurring fats rather than that in biscuits, cakes and snacks is the best advice.

Friends

Feeling isolated at work or under threat from colleagues is not just upsetting but is a long-term risk to your health and can more than double the risk of serious illness or early death.

A 20-year study at Tel Aviv university tracked more than 800 white-collar workers. Those who were surrounded by bullies and backstabbers were 2.4 more likely to die during the study.

On the other hand feeling supported and welcomed by co-workers seems to protect your health and well-being. Considering how much time we spend at work it’s important that it is a positive experience and somewhere you can get emotional support if you need it.

But it’s not just at work. Living alone in middle age can double your chances of developing Altzheimer’s especially if you are widowed or divorced according to the findings of a 20-year study of 2,000 people published in 2011.

Vitamin supplements

Some supplements may do more harm than good. German research published in Heart in 2012 found that calcium supplements taken to fend off osteoporosis can double the risk of heart attacks.

Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men with prostate cancer who take more than 7  multi-vitamins a week are 30% more likely to get advanced and fatal forms of the disease.

Defenders of supplements argue that people who take them are more likely to be ill in the first place. But if you have a healthy diet and aren’t vegan why would you need to take supplements anyway?

Conscientiousness

Being conscientious i.e. doing what you say you will do, and paying attention to detail has significant health benefits according to the results of an 80-year study of American children from the age of eight called the Longevity Project.

Conscientious people live significantly longer. Being conscientious means having a prudent nature, being persistent and well-organised, somewhat obsessive and not generally carefree, say the authors of the study..

“Taking life seriously makes people want to live more meaningful, committed lives.  They also take fewer risks and look after their well-being everyday; they achieved much for their families and nurtured close relationships. They were persistent and successful and dedicated to things and people other than themselves.”

Holidays 

A quarter of us don’t take all our holidays in the UK (an average of 5 weeks). The US isn’t so generous with paid leave but data from the earlier mentioned Framingham study shows that women who don’t often take holidays are eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took two holidays a year.

Our bodies fact to our lifestyles and if that involves being stressed it’s not good for us.

Sex

Having sex is particularly important for middle-aged men. Those who have intercourse several times a week significantly reduce their risk of suffering a fatal stroke.

The University of Bristol monitored the cardiac health and sexual activity over over 900 men in Wales from a former mining village. The men were aged 45-59 when first studied in the early 1980s.

20% reported having sex once a month or less, 25% had sex twice a week or more often. The rest of the group were somewhere between these two extremes.

The 25% who enjoyed the most sex suffered the fewest fatal strokes according to the report in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

 Eating & Drinking

Studies in Japan show that stopping eating when you feel 80% full can reduce your calories intake by around 20%. Restricted calorie intake has been linked to longevity.

If you don’t fancy that approach a mediterranean diet helps replacing processed foods with freshly prepared meals rich in olive oil, oily fish and nuts. A low carb diet rich in nuts, grains, oat cereals and barley can reduce the risk of heart disease by 10% over 10 years.

Drinking in moderation can help you long term. A study of almost 2,000 men and women published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research showed that men and women who drink moderately tend to live longer than heavy drinkers or teetotallers.

Experts from the university of Texas found three drinks a day did no harm. Low-level alcohol consumption protects against coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in developed countries. So the experts think the benefits outweigh any risks.

Drinking tea also helps. Four or five cups a day helps to protect your heart. A survey of 13,000 people found that those drinking tea (with or without milk) had a better cardiovascular profile than coffee drinkers or those who drank neither.

Tea has a positive effect on blood pressure and has anti-oxidants that have survival benefits.

Diet Drinks are a definite no-no. Drinking artificially sweetened drinks including water is definitely not good for you. The American College of Cardiology suggest that people drinking two or more of these drinks a day are 30% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem than people who never drink them.

Prime sources: Times Body + Soul June 2012 “How to be healthy in 20 years time”; Times Body & Soul January 2015 “The midlife healthy heart guide: the rules for men and women”; plus various posts from this site.

 

It’s not fair – bullies do better in life!

bullying_a_kid_1600_wht_9049There is lots of research to show that being bullied in childhood can have lifelong negative effects with such victims more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in adulthood.

You’d like to think that bullies would get their comeuppance but recent research shows that bullies can reap social benefits by dominating those around them.

This might also boost their physical and psychological health in the long term.

The research was carried out using 20 years of data from over 1,400 people by scientists at Duke University in North Carolina and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences..

The participants were interviewed during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. The scientist also took blood samples to look for a protein marker (CRP) which is a good predictor of someone developing heart disease.

Bullies had the lowest CRP levels, even lower than those who had never been bullied.

Bullying is not the only ways to gain status and research in both the USA AND the UK showed that standing up to bullies was good for you.

 

Bullying can have lifelong effects

bullying_a_kid_1600_wht_9049Children who were badly bullied as children are twice as likely to be depressed or suicidal in middle age.

These are the same outcomes as for children in care.

In both cases these childhood victims are more likely to be unemployed, live alone, and earn less.

These are the results of the first study, at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, to track the impact of bullying into later adulthood which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The lead author Ryu Takizawa said “our study shows the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact is persistent and pervasive”.

The researchers looked at almost 8,000 people born in 1958 and followed them for more than 50 years. At ages 7 and 11, 28% of them were bullied occasionally and 15% regularly. Frequent bullying was related to greater psychological distress at ages 23 and 50.

The risk of anxiety disorders was two-thirds higher for those bullied frequently as children and the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts twice as high.

This study and others emphasise the importance of having a healthy and happy childhood for people to remain so during their adult lives.