Tesco and Next have defended their hiring practices after Labour attacked the retailing giants for preferring cheap Eastern European staff over British workers.
Chris Bryant, the shadow immigration minister, has branded the retailers ‘unscrupulous employers’ in a concentrated attack on the retailers’ operating policies. But Tesco and Next insisted that they have been recruiting locally.
Tesco, who employs more than 290,000 staff in the UK, said that it ‘was wrong to accuse Tesco of this.’ It added that the company works hard to recruit people from the local area and has hired 350 people to work on its Dagenham site.
A spokesman for Next, who employs about 54,500 people, said that the allegation ‘seemed unlikely’ and insisted that the company only hired Polish agency workers for short periods during their summer sale
John Lewis have attempted to instigate a shift in the mindset of UK retail as it vows to sell 15 per cent more UK-made products in the next two years. It has also increased its local supplier base from 132 to 207 firms over the past year.
Extracts from Bryant’s speech, published by The Sunday Telegraph, to be given today said: “(Next) get to avoid Agency Workers Regulations which apply after a candidate has been employed for over 12 weeks, so Polish temps end up considerably cheaper than the local workforce which includes many former Next employees.”