Food Workers Union Takes Aim At Tesco

The 1.3 million-strong United Food and Commercial Workers union, one of the largest in the country, has launched a campaign in the UK to expose what it calls “The Two Faces of Tesco."

At a Westminster press launch chaired by Jon Cruddas MP, the union said it’s stepping up a campaign already begun in the U.S. to shame Tesco to talks on union recognition and employee pay and benefits.

The UFCW seeks to represent some of the lowest-paid and least-secure retail workers in the U.S., more than half of whom are women. The union said it has been seeking talks with Tesco for two years since the world’s third-largest retailer announced its entry into the U.S. grocery market, but all attempts have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Tesco launched its chain of Fresh & Easy supermarkets on the West Coast in 2007 as non-union stores.

UFCW said it’s looking to open a dialogue with the company to build the same constructive partnership that Tesco enjoys in the UK with the shop workers’ union Usdaw, but Tesco refuses to meet the U.S. counterparts.

With that, UFCW has taken the campaign to Britain. It believes its new report, “The Two Faces of Tesco,” is a damning indictment of how Tesco operates different principles at home and abroad. The report highlights what UFCW believes are stark contrasts between what Tesco says and what it does.

Speaking at the launch, Jon Cruddas said: “British companies which operate in the global marketplace should apply the highest standards in dealing with their workforce, both at home and abroad. What this dossier exposes about Tesco’s practices in the United States, in my view not only undermines Tesco’s reputation, but will also affect how people think about the fairness of British companies in general. I urge Tesco to put its stated principles and policies into practice and to start talking to these important stakeholders.”

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