Tuesday, 13 August 2013


It may come down to a desperate search for votes perhaps motivated by a growing fear that Labour may blow its chance of returning to office at the next Westminster general election, that and the knowledge that their leader has effectively vanished without trace.  Whatever the reasons the Labour's immigration spokesman’s latest blunder won’t do much to help create the impression that Labour is standing up for ‘the Workers’. 

In a speech, Chris Bryant said Tesco had planned to provide "reassurance", while Next was cited for using a recruitment site "entirely in Polish". The planned speech contained strong criticisms of two of the UK's biggest retailers over claims that they favoured Eastern European workers over Britons. Yet Citizen Bryant rapidly removed other critical excerpts which referred to both companies, unfortunately in true New Labour style the speech had been widely reported the press over the weekend.

Apparently Tesco and Next apparently ‘raised concerns’ (that’s spin for kicking off big time) about the criticisms. In extracts from the speech published in the advance in Sunday Telegraph, Mr Bryant claimed Tesco had moved a distribution centre to Kent where "a large percentage" of staff were "from Eastern bloc" countries. Staff at an original site, "most of them British, were told that they could only move to the new centre if they took a cut in pay", he was reportedly due to say. After complaints from the company, these passages were rapidly removed.

Standing up for Welsh jobs - perhaps not?
Now when it comes to standing up for indigenous workers jobs, Labour is not only late to arrive but also has a pretty poor record from its time in Government at Westminster. In Monmouth constituency, in Chepstow, when Tesco threw its weight around with an ultimatum to its workers at the Tesco Distribution Centre at Newhouse Farm Industrial Estate in Chepstow – Labour (at pretty much all levels) were on the whole conspicuous by their absence (and they were in government then).

Staff at the Tesco Distribution Centre in Chepstow faced a stark choice redundancy or an eight year pay freezes as part of the transfer deal to a new distribution centre at Piling near Bristol (Severn Bridge tolls were to be paid for two years up until 2011). The former workers at Tesco would have been in a much better position to defend their jobs had former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown signed the European Social Chapter, then the workers would have had better protection, sadly the party then known as New Labour choose not to. 

Labour’s silence over the demise of the Tesco distribution centre at Chepstow, and so many other things was odd? I mean they were the party that was supposed to stand up for workers rights. At the end of the day Tesco upped sticks from Chepstow and relocated to Piling near Bristol and union representatives had noted that new contracts for the Pilning site offered less pay and fewer benefits. 

Any Welsh Government or WDA funding that Tesco may have received to help expand and develop its former distribution centre at Chepstow over the years should have been reclaimed. Yet, by strange coincidence Tesco was listed by the Electoral Commission as a small but regular donator of cash / funds to the Labour Party, between 11th March 2003 and 30th October 2008, Tesco donated £73,664 pounds in cash to the Labour Party. In the same period the Liberal Democrats got around £28,000 from Tesco. 

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