Lewisham campaigners target Tesco over pay

News Shopper: A Tesco protestor A Tesco protestor

LEWISHAM campaigners plan to join nationwide protests against the Government's work experience scheme tomorrow by targeting a Tesco store.

Right to Work campaigners will be protesting at the Tesco Express in Lewisham Way tomorrow from 3pm.

One of the firm's supermarkets in central London was forced to close on Saturday after it was invaded by members of the Right to Work campaign who said they were angry at a job advert looking for permanent workers in exchange for expenses and Jobseeker's Allowance.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling has defended the scheme, saying critics are "job snobs" and adding that the project helps tackle the record number of young jobless people because it boosts their CVs with six-week work placements.

"I praise Tesco for offering unpaid work experience, short-term, to young people because it helps them," he said at the weekend, adding that the scheme worked "enormously well", and insisted it was entirely voluntary.

"They don't have to do the work experience placements, but something like half of them are coming off benefits as a result of those placements. Surely that's really good news."

Tesco said an advert for the scheme had been "misunderstood", and blamed a computer error by Jobcentre Plus.

Sam James, chairman of the Right to Work campaign, said: "Based on the Government's own figures, these schemes have already provided more than £67.5 million in free labour to businesses that make billions in profit.

"Why is the Government subsidising Tesco with our money when it could be investing to create the millions of jobs needed to end the unemployment crisis? It is Tesco's responsibility to pay properly for its staff - not the Government's. They should pull out of the scheme like Sainsbury's and others."

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the criticism surrounding the scheme as "damaging nonsense".

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