Union piles pressure on Tesco through US supplier

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The Independent Online

America's biggest food workers' union has stepped up its pressure on Tesco's US operation, by reporting its ready-meals supplier in the US to a labour-relations tribunal yesterday for the alleged unfair firing of six employees.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) claimed that the 2 Sisters Food Group, a supplier to Tesco's Fresh & Easy convenience store chain, has sacked the workers for their attendance at a union recruitment meeting and for filing complaints against managers.

This is the latest broadside the UFCW has launched against Fresh & Easy's failure to recognise the union in the US, following their attendance at the grocer's AGM in Birmingham in June and two letters from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to Fresh & Easy boss Tim Mason and Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy.

UFCW campaigns director Emily Stewart said: "We have uncovered evidence that workers are being harassed and intimidated by 2 Sisters management to deter union activity, in clear contravention of US labour laws."

A 2 Sisters Food Group spokesman said: "2 Sisters Food Group vehemently denies it has violated in any way US labour law. Specifically, it has not terminated the employment of any employee for union activity and has not engaged in intimidating tactics."

2 Sisters stressed that it is "very committed" to its $60m investment into its food-processing facility close to Fresh & Easy's distribution centre in Riverside, California, where it aims to create 400 local jobs over the next four years.

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