Tesco has published the recruitment charter for its Dagenham distribution centre, following a war of words with Labour’s shadow minister for immigration Chris Bryant.
Bryant was reported to have criticised Tesco and Next for choosing to employ ‘cheaper’ immigrant labour over British workers – prompting strong denials from both retailers. Bryant later toned down his comments in a speech delivered to the Institute for Public Policy Research yesterday.
In response, Tesco published the recruitment charter for its Dagenham distribution centre, which was singled out by Bryant in his speech for having a higher proportion of staff from Eastern European countries than its previous DC in Harlow.
“Staffline will not recruit outside of the UK for the Dagenham DC until such time that the quality or quantity of local labour has been exhausted”
“We pledge to engage with the local people in the surrounding area of the Dagenham DC and ensure that they are given the opportunity to work in the new site,” the charter (PDF) says.
“Staffline [Tesco’s recruitment agency] will monitor all responses to advertising and recruitment campaigns to ensure local people are given every opportunity to be successful.
“Staffline will not recruit outside of the UK for the Dagenham DC until such time that the quality or quantity of local labour has been exhausted and only following agreement with the Tesco Dagenham DC site team.”
Tesco also promised to advertise all Dagenham vacancies via Job Centre Plus.
A Tesco spokeswoman said the charter was drawn up when recruitment for Dagenham began in April, although the general guidelines had been agreed with Staffline before that.
In a detailed blog post published yesterday afternoon, Tesco UK operations director Gerry Gray refuted the suggestion that staff were asked to take a pay cut to move from Harlow to Dagenham.
“It is also not true that ‘a large proportion’ of the workers in Dagenham are non-British,” he added. “Whether employed directly by Tesco or through an agency, they are overwhelmingly from the local area.
“But the most serious accusation is that we have employed foreign workers in Dagenham on cheaper wages over British workers. This is simply untrue. We are not legally allowed to offer different rates of pay to people from different nations.”