Tesco’s American arm, Fresh & Easy, has been slammed in a report on exploitative working practices in the US.

The UK’s largest supermarket was among a clutch of European businesses criticised by Human Rights Watch. The campaign group claimed that managers at Fresh & Easy had fostered an ‘anti-union’ atmosphere that meant workers felt unable to join labour groups.

"Even self-proclaimed 'progressive' companies take full advantage of weak US laws to stifle freedom of association," said Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights programme at Human Rights Watch.

"The behaviour of these companies casts serious doubt on the value of voluntary commitments to human rights.”

Responding to the claims in a letter to Human Rights Watch, Tesco corporate affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote: “Fresh & Easy is committed to creating a great place to work and maintaining a workplace where everyone is valued and treated with respect.

“We offer quality jobs, good pay, comprehensive and affordable benefits and have an ‘open door’ policy that gives staff a genuine voice in the workplace.

“All Tesco employees have the right to join a trade union and we believe it is very important that they are able to exercise this right. It is not true to say that we are ‘aiming for a non-unionised US workforce’.”

Fresh & Easy has struggled to turn a profit since Tesco’s US debut in 2007.

Read more
Tesco shrugs off criticism in Scots property row (1 September 2010)
Tesco goes to San Francisco (20 August 2010)
Tesco takes over US supplier duo (22 June 2010)