Call for Tesco to end 'discrimination' of workers

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Supermarket giant Tesco will face calls at its annual meeting today for action to end the "exploitation and discrimination" of workers employed by companies in the UK and Ireland that supply meat to the firm.

Unite will table a resolution at the AGM in Glasgow as part of its long running campaign claiming that some workers in Tesco's UK supply chain were experiencing "harsh and divisive" conditions.

The union said it believed structural discrimination existed in many parts of the supply chain that provides meat to Tesco with agency workers, overwhelmingly migrant, on poorer conditions of employment, undercutting indigenous workers.

Deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said: "The exploitation of migrant agency workers and undercutting of indigenous workers divides workplaces, damages community social cohesion and fuels racism.

"Now we take their cause to the AGM of Tesco shareholders, holding Terry Leahy (Tesco chief executive) to account.

"Tesco leads in size but lags behind competitor supermarkets who are accepting their responsibilities. The meat industry will forever be scarred by exploitation, undercutting and discrimination if the dominant player washes its hands of responsibility.

"Unite will be outside the Tesco AGM protesting but we'll also be inside, calling for action."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is conducting an inquiry into the UK's multibillion-pound meat industry in England and Wales for evidence of employment abuse and discrimination.

Tesco said it welcomed the review, in which it was fully participating, adding that the issues were industry-wide.