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Every fiddle helps
TOP SUPERMARKETS Sainsbury's and Asda are to pay the Treasury near-record fines of £116 million for 'price fixing' in milk, cheese and butter in a scandal in 2002-2003 estimated to have cost consumers about £270 million.
The 'regulators', the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) accused these supermarket 'competitors' of colluding by swapping information amongst themselves to make about 3p per litre more profit on milk. They also charged customers 15p extra for a quarter-pound of butter or a half-pound of cheese.
They negotiated a smaller fine - Sainsbury's paid £26 million instead of £40 million - for this milking of profits after owning up. But Britain's biggest supermarket, Tesco, Morrisons and the dairy group Lactalis McLelland also allegedly fixed the price of dairy products, but do not accept liability and could face bigger fines.
The big four supermarkets control 75% of the market and use their size to squeeze their smaller rivals and to give a raw deal to smaller suppliers such as dairy farmers. So far, they have still made £154 million out of this collusion if you take the fines from their extra profits.
Meanwhile, according to anti-supermarket campaigners, the OFT and the government have plans to loosen planning laws that will make the big four even more dominant in the market.
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In The Socialist 13 December 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Post Office dispute
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