The initial mistake was made by Tesco, when it advertised a work-experience post as a permanent position with no pay except for expenses. In fact, what was on offer was part of a government scheme to provide experience and training, with a job interview at the end, to young people on benefits.
But the far bigger error, amid the furore that followed, was the Government's abject failure to defend a rather sensible, if limited, effort to tackle youth unemployment.
The suggestion that people were being asked to work for nothing led to a storm of accusations of "slave labour" against Tesco.
Indeed, such was the outrage that the supermarket was forced to close one of its central London branches after it was occupied by protesters.
Wrong on both counts. Not only is it unfair to accuse Tesco of exploitation for taking part in a government-run job creation scheme. It is also not true that the employees are working for free. They are, after all, being paid jobseeker's allowance.
- More about: