13 December 2006 | Antony Barton
Tesco's suppliers treat their employees fairly and recent accusations of worker intimidation by Bangladeshi manufacturers are untrue, according to the supermarket chain.
A spokeswoman told supplymanagement.com that Tesco's announced and unannounced audits prevent bosses from being able to bully staff. Yet when asked how such audits would detect workers being forced into unpaid overtime the spokeswoman said it was "too difficult to discuss the 'ifs' and 'buts'" of hypothetical situations.
The comments follow last week's publication of a charity report, which said workers in some Bangladeshi factories are paid just 5p an hour to make clothing for Tesco, Primark and Asda.Fashion Victims
, published by workers' rights organisation War on Want, claims that starting salaries in some of the factories are barely a third of the living wage. It says some workers are also forced to do up to 140 hours a month overtime.
Tesco has since written a letter to War on Want asking for the details of the unnamed factories. Yet the charity remains resolute that it will retain the anonymity of its interviewees and the factories visited.
The Tesco spokeswoman insisted that there would be no backlash from bosses if employees' details were made available because "there is an ethical system of audits that prevent bosses being the problem", which includes unannounced factory visits.