‘Tesco is putting more and more pressure on meat suppliers to cut their prices and this is leading to a shocking exploitation of workers and a two-tier workforce,’ Unite organiser Chris White said yesterday morning.
He was speaking at a demonstration outside the Central London Tesco store in Regent Street, where protesters dressed as chickens delivered a Valentine’s Day card addressed to Tesco boss Terry Leahy, along with a petition signed by thousands of workers in the supermarket’s supply chain.
White told News Line: ‘Tesco has to deliver on the Minimum Standards Agreement which it has signed, under which all workers should be treated equally and have access to the trade unions.
‘But instead it is putting pressure on suppliers such as Bernard Matthews, Grampian, Two Sisters, which are Unite-organised workplaces, to reduce prices and deliver promotional offers, with the consequence that they are seeking to cut their costs.
‘We’ve given evidence to Tesco that the pressure they are putting on suppliers is harming workers’ conditions and that they are creating a two-tier workforce, but their response has been to claim they don’t believe us.
‘There has been a huge increase in the introduction of agency workers – in some cases an increase from 10 per cent to 80 per cent.
‘We’ve seen zero hours contracts, whereby workers are just at beck and call – no work one day and 12 hours another, and we’ve seen wage packets where people have earned just £60 a week.
‘We are fighting against the wholesale casualisation of workers and we are stepping up the campaign, it is an escalating campaign.’
Piketing Tesco in Crawley Mick Duncan, Senior organiser Unite southern region told News Line: ‘We want Tesco to show a little love to poultry workers who must be treated fairly and equally.’