The grocer has recommended that shareholders vote against a resolution that calls for its suppliers to undergo independent auditing to ensure decent pay and conditions for employees at its agm tomorrow.
Tesco shareholder and War on Want company secretary Ben Birnberg proposed the resolution after he garnered the support of more than 100 shareholders, including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, an independent organisation which holds close to one million shares.
Birnberg said: 'Tesco prides itself on promoting core values and seeking to uphold labour standards in the supply chain. Yet our evidence shows Tesco keeps its prices low by exploiting workers in developing countries like Bangladesh. If Tesco is genuine about its ethical pretensions, why are its directors advising shareholders to vote down my resolution?'
Backing for the resolution also comes from Bangladesh researcher Khorshed Alam, who interviewed workers that make Tesco clothes in the country's capital Dhaka. Alam, who works for the Alternative Movement for Research and Freedom Society in Dhaka, said: 'The workers I interviewed toil for paltry wages up to 20 hours a day in locked premises, despite garment factory fires and building collapses which left almost 100 employees dead. I have travelled to London to speak up for the rights of Bangladeshi workers.'
The anti-poverty charity is calling on new Prime Minister Gordon Brown to appoint an independent regulator to oversee compliance with the national Supermarket Code of Practice on the part of Tesco and its competitors.