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Jamie Lawrence

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Insights Director

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Labour tone down criticisms of Next and Tesco after speech leaks

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Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has toned down comments critical of Tesco and Next’s recruitment policies after his original speech was reported to the press over the weekend.

In his actual speech, delivered today, Bryant said that Tesco must provide “reassurance” they were not discriminating against Britons in favour of foreign workers. He also cited Next for using a recruitment site that was “entirely in Polish.”

The original text included comments that Tesco had moved a distribution centre to Kent where a “large percentage” of workers were from “Eastern bloc countries." Bryant was also reportedly due to add that British workers were told they could only move to the new site if they took a cut in pay.

Criticism of Next was also planned: “They [workers at Next] were recruited in Poland and charged £50 to find them accommodation. The advantage to Next? They 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.”

Both these criticisms were cut from the actual speech following complaints raised by both Next and Tesco.

Prior to the speech, a Next spokesperson said: "We are deeply disappointed Mr Bryant did not bother to check his facts with the company before releasing his speech. In fact, agency workers from Poland cost us exactly the same as local agency workers and our existing employees."

And Tesco said Bryant had been "wrong" to say they had set up a new distribution centre in Kent, adding that it had set one up in Dagenham, East London.

They added: "We have one of the best pay and benefits packages in the industry, and we pay the same rate whether our colleagues are British or from the EU."

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence
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