Labour in foreign staff row

Labour's immigration spokesman has modified planned criticism of Tesco and Next over claims they preferred eastern European workers after a preview of his speech drew a furious response from the firms. Tesco said it "absolutely refutes" the claim.

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Bryant: Labour made mistakes on immigration

Labour's shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said people from all over Britain, including immigrants themselves, expect to have their legitimate concerns about immigration taken seriously.

"I realise that for some time people thought that Labour believed that anyone who expressed a concern about immigration was racist, so let me be clear.

Yes, racists have sometimes polluted this debate, and we should always be alive to the dangers of prejudice and always be alive to racism at every turn.

Shadow Immigration minister Chris Bryant. Credit: ITV News

"But Labour have concerns about immigration, about the pace of migration, about the undercutting of workers terms and conditions, about the effect on the UK labour market.

"True, Labour made mistakes on immigration, when we came to power in 1997, we had to tackle complete chaos in the asylum system.[...] And we created the post of immigration minister. But though we were right to introduce a points based system in 2008, we should have done so earlier."

Conservative MP accuses Tesco of being 'ruthless'

A Conservative MP has attacked both Labour and Tesco amid a row over immigration and cheap labour from Eastern Europe.

Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow in Essex where Tesco once employed 800 staff, branded the supermarket "ruthless" for shutting the depot so it could open new distribution centres in Dagenham and Reading. He told Daybreak:

I have my own grievance with Tesco. I believe their company have behaved ruthlessly in Harlow, but they have been able to do this because of what the Labour Party did when they were in government.

In some ways, in my view Tesco ... they used to say 'pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap'. In my view the way they have behaved in Harlow, it's pile the money high and sell the workers cheap.

– Robert Halfon


Economy needs 'refocused away from imported labour'

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said it was time to "refocus" the economy away from imported labour.

Shadow Immigration minister Chris Bryant, speaking on Daybreak. Credit: ITV News

Speaking on Daybreak ahead of his speech this morning, when he is expected to criticise "unscrupulous employers" who cut their costs by using workers from eastern Europe he said:

"We have one million young people under the age of 24 in this country out of work, we have higher long-term unemployment than we have had for many years, couldn't we run the economy in a better way so that big companies don't have to rely on bringing in workers?"

"This is a big issue for companies that pay people within spitting distance of the minimum wage.

"If you have eight men coming from an eastern European country, a low wage economy, to the UK living in a house together, often in sub-standard accommodation, and only working for six weeks and then going home, then of course they under cut British people who would be able to take on those jobs."

Next: Immigration accusations 'deeply disappointing'

Next deny hiring Polish workers so they can avoid workers' regulations. Credit: PA

Next do not hire Polish workers to work around regulations and are "deeply disappointed" they have been accused of doing so by a leading Labour MP, a spokesman for the chain has said.

Next accused Mr Bryant of not bothering "to check his facts with the company" before releasing extracts of his major speech on immigration, to be given later today.

The spokesman added: "In fact, agency workers from Poland cost us exactly the same as local agency workers, and our existing employees.

"The only reason we seek the help of people from Poland is that we simply can't recruit enough local people to satisfy these spikes in demand for temporary work."

Labour to attack Next's use of Polish workers

Labour is expected Next over the chain's use of Polish labour Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Next have come under fire for their reliance on Polish labour from shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant.

In a wide-ranging speech later today, the Labour MP will attack the fashion and homewares store for their use of temporary Polish migrants.

Mr Bryant is expected to say: "Look at Next Plc, who last year brought 500 Polish workers to work in their South Elmsall warehouse for their summer sale and another 300 this summer. They were recruited in Poland and charged £50 to find them accommodation.

"The advantage to Next? They get to avoid Agency Workers Regulations, which apply after a candidate has been employed for over 12 weeks, so Polish temps end up considerably cheaper than the local workforce, which includes many former Next employees."

Bryant: UK facing an 'epidemic' of sham marriages

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant is expected to propose new measures to enable the Home Office to clamp down on sham marriages.

Chris Bryant is expected to call for new powers to help the Home Office tackle sham marriages. Credit: PA

In a wide ranging speech on immigration this morning, extracts of which were released over the weekend, he is expected to say:

"Registrars have told me that they are facing an 'epidemic' of sham marriages. Why? Partly because when you close down one route it is likely that people will use another.

"But also because the way marriage law interacts with immigration is simply not fit for purpose. Understandably, registrars do not see themselves as immigration officers. They see their job as facilitating marriage."

Mr Bryant is expected to call for online notifications in real time of all marriages where one or both people are under immigration control.


Tesco says it works hard to recruit staff locally

Tesco said it had recruited 350 local people to work in its distribution centre in Dagenham, which is in the east London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and was formerly in Essex, not Kent.

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.

– Tesco spokesman

Bryant: 'Employers recruit from low-wage EU countries'

Tesco has denied having a distribution centre in the county and it is understood the firm will write to Labour to complain about the "unfair" attack.

The biggest complaint I have heard, from migrants and settled communities alike, is about the negative effects migration can have on the UK labour market. And I agree.

It is unfair that unscrupulous employers whose only interest seems to be finding labour as cheaply as possible will recruit workers in large numbers in low-wage countries in the EU, bring them to the UK, charge the costs of their travel and their substandard accommodation against their wages and still not even meet the national minimum wage.

– Labour's Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant

According to extracts of tomorrow's speech reported in The Sunday Telegraph, Labour minister Chris Bryant will acknowledge that immigration can have a negative effect on labour markets.

Labour targets Tesco over immigration claims

Labour MP Chris Bryant has clashed with Tesco Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Labour's Shadow immigration minister has clashed with supermarket giant Tesco over claims made by a senior MP about recruiting foreign workers.

Chris Bryant is set to highlight the activities of Tesco in a speech attacking "unscrupulous employers" who recruit cheap labour from Eastern Europe.

In a speech tomorrow, he will claim the supermarket moved its distribution centre to Kent where a "large percentage" of the staff are from the eastern bloc, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

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