HIGH street giants Tesco and Next have lashed out at Labour after the party branded them “unscrupulous employers” and claimed they preferred cheap Eastern European staff over British workers.
Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant will today call out hiring procedures at the two firms as part of a wide-ranging attack on businesses that use cheap labour from abroad.
But the retailers insist they are recruiting locally and say Bryant made basic factual errors in extracts leaked over the weekend.
Tesco said he had wrongly located its new distribution centre in Kent rather than Essex, adding: “We work incredibly hard to recruit from the local area, and have just recruited 350 local people to work in our Dagenham site.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Next insisted the company only used Polish agency workers for short periods during their summer sale.
“Tesco can behave quite ruthlessly, as seen when they closed a distribution centre in my constituency,” Tory MP Robert Halfon told City A.M. last night. “But it was Labour who got us into this mess by allowing uncontrolled immigration into this country.”
Bryant’s speech marks a change in Labour’s immigration policy, amid fears within the party that a soft-touch approach will lose votes among its core working class supporters.
Bryant will also propose a new electronic register to reduce the number of sham marriages.