Tesco denies £12,000 Harlow jobs transfer pay cuts

Harlow Tesco sign Tesco said it realised the situation was tough for workers and their families

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A supermarket chain has denied claims by an MP that workers at a distribution depot in Essex could lose up to £12,000 pay in a forced transfer to new jobs.

Tesco is closing three UK depots and jobs at Harlow would move to London.

Labour MP Gareth Thomas told the Commons workers would have to accept worse terms and conditions.

But Tesco said it had a policy to protect wages of people moving to a lower pay area and rates including extras would be adjusted gradually.

Mr Thomas, MP for Harrow West, intervened during the Queen's Speech debate to argue Harlow staff moving to a new depot at Dagenham would have to accept lower pay.

He urged ministers from the Department for Business to intervene with Tesco to try to persuade them to think again.

'Difficult time'

Tesco said it set pay rates according to local conditions but had operated a protection policy over the past 15 years for staff transferring.

The staff retain existing terms and conditions during a period of adjustment that often lasts several years.

"We know this is a difficult time for colleagues in Harlow and we're working with (the union) Usdaw to find jobs for them within Tesco," said a company spokeswoman.

"We've offered colleagues a support package to help them move to the new site at Dagenham and we'll keep doing everything we can to find roles within Tesco for everyone who wants them."

The company said it set pay levels at its distribution centres in line with the local market, and its combined pay and benefits package was in the top 25% for the industry.

'Devastating changes'

It is due to meet union representatives again this week.

Harlow Conservative MP Robert Halfon has said workers would be "fundamentally worse off" after the closure of the Tesco depot.

Other Tesco distribution centres affected by the closures are Barlborough, near Chesterfield, where 400 people work, and Weybridge in Surrey with 650 staff.

Magor in Monmouthshire, which employs 800 people, will be cutting 150 staff.

The union Usdaw has described the changes as "devastating" and is consulting with Tesco to "explore all possible options to reduce any job losses".

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