‘Tesco in Dagenham employs local people’ says supermarket after migrant worker claims

Tesco's distribution depot in Dagenham

Tesco's distribution depot in Dagenham - Credit: Archant

A Labour minister has backtracked on his claims Tesco favour eastern European workers, after the supermarket insisted it had employed 350 locals at its Dagenham depot.

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant had been due to say that Tesco had moved a distribution centre from Kent to Dagenham, where, he claimed, “a large percentage” of staff were “from Eastern bloc” countries and wages were lower.

The chain does not have a depot in Kent and it is thought he was referring to the Harlow depot in Essex which closed shortly before the new centre in Dagenham opened around five weeks ago.

Tesco hit back at Mr Bryant’s claims, which were extracts of a speech he released on the weekend and had planned to make today.

A spokesman said: “It is wrong to accuse Tesco of this. We work incredibly hard to recruit from the local area and have just recruited 350 local people to work in our Dagenham site.”

In response Mr Bryant, who also accused clothes chain Next of using cheap migrant labour, said he fully accepted that the two companies “indeed often go the extra mile to try and recruit more local workers”.

Speaking today Tesco said it paid the same rate to British and EU workers and claimed it had “one of the best pay and benefits packages in the industry.”

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One Tesco worker who lives in Dagenham, but did not want to be named, said there were a large number of Eastern European workers at the depot, although he was unable to say whether they lived in the local area. But on social networking site streetlife.com residents said they knew of a fair few local people who had got jobs on the site.

Around 120 employees were transferred from the Harlow depot to Dagenham, said Tesco.