Tesco Twitter PR crisis over 'slave labour' claims

Tesco 'Twitter-bods' complain to Tesco Customer Care about unfair working practices and slave labour after 'wage free' job is advertised.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

The UK supermarket giant Tesco is facing a backlash today as 'Twitter-bods' complain to Tesco Customer Care account about unfair working practices and slave labour after 'wage free' job is advertised.

The UK Tesco Twitter account is usually full of messages to customers with normal customer service issues. Tesco has a great social media customer service response team and deals with customer queries promptly and efficiently. Despite the increase in social media activity recently, sales slumped over the holiday season.

Usually there are very few complaints about the Tesco brand itself.

Until this morning...

Gareth is manning the UKTesco Twitter account today. 'Good day, Twitter-bods! Gareth here to help with any Tesco questions you have, keep me busy!' He said.

Unfortunately he got more responses than he was expecting.

Last week Tesco advertised job postings for permanent night shift workers to work in its Bury St Edmunds store in Suffolk, UK.

JSA is the acronym for Job Seekers Allowance -- which is £53.45 per week if you are under 25 years old. Dr Éoin Clarke reckons Tesco plans to recruit up to 3,000 workers without paying them a salary through this scheme.

The government implemented a mandatory work scheme in May 2011 to enable job seekers to get into a 'work oriented mind-set'.  They will not receive any salary but will retain their job seekers allowance.

Twitter users responded angrily this morning, flooding UKTesco's Twitter stream with angry messages citing slave labour and exploitation of those without jobs.

Tesco confirmed on Twitter that it is 'taking part in a government-led work experience scheme to help young people, this has already led to 300 permanent jobs'.  In fact, up to November 2011 there have been 24,010 referrals to a Mandatory Work Activity placement throughout the UK.

This is not the first time Tesco has been criticised for the wages it pays its workers. It has been accused of exploiting 'slave labour' workers in 2008 who were being paid just 16p per hour.

Tesco is now responding to those who complained saying that 'This was an error made by Jobcentre Plus. It should be an advert for work experience with a guaranteed interview at the end'.

It's Gareth I feel sorry for. He was ready and waiting this morning to answer customer questions as usual. He now has to deal with the fallout from his innocent tweet. Tesco will now be implementing its social media crisis management plan (hopefully) to minimise the effects of thisTwitter storm.

Perhaps a drink after this long, long day is over might be just what Gareth needs..

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