28 February 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Unite trade union held demonstrations outside Marks & Spencer stores in the UK yesterday, to highlight alleged mistreatment of workers in the firm's supply chain.
But the retailer said it was "at a loss" as to why it was singled out.
The union said it held the protests because it found evidence of discrimination in the firm's meat supply chain. It said the retailer was driving down costs by operating a "two-tier workforce", where permanent staff receive superior work and pay conditions, compared with migrant workers.
It also argued that buying and importing meat cheaply from countries such as Thailand and Brazil is affecting labour conditions for low-paid workers in the UK. Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of Unite, said the retailer must show respect for its supply chain staff.
But Marks & Spencer responded to the claims, saying the firm had "a leading position in labour standards and works very hard with all our suppliers to maintain these high standards".