Workers union Unite has accused Tesco of fuelling racism by allowing foreign workers to be exploited within its meat supply chain.

It claims agency workers employed by some of Tesco’s meat suppliers are being paid less and are treated less favourably than colleagues on permanent contracts, according to The Guardian. Many agency workers are migrants.

Unite is lobbying shareholders to back a resolution at Tesco’s AGM on Friday that aims to redress the alleged imbalance in Tesco suppliers’ treatment of workers.

The resolution calls for the appointment of a Tesco board member who would be responsible for stamping out discrimination against foreign workers employed in the retailer’s supply chain.

“We've organised workers around fair and equal treatment,” Unite deputy general secretary Jack Dromey told The Guardian. “Now we are taking their cause to the AGM of Tesco shareholders and holding Terry Leahy, their chief executive, to account.”

Tesco dismissed the union’s claims, with its board recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal.

"We do not believe that bringing this resolution at one company's AGM is the best way to progress what is an industry-wide debate,” it has stated.

However, West Yorkshire Pension Fund has already given its backing to the resolution and the influential Pensions & Investment Research Consultancy has also recommended to shareholders that they back the plan.