2007-10-08 17:27:18 UTC
Supermarket giant Sainsbury's is hailing the superior work ethic of
its immigrant workers.
The company, which has a workforce of 150,000, praised newcomers to
Britain for their flexibility and for their uncomplaining attitude to
It hopes their approach will spread to domestic workers and is planning
to increase its use of immigrant labour.
We have found migrant workers to have a very satisfactory work ethic,
in many cases superior to domestic workers, J Sainsbury said in
evidence to a parliamentary inquiry on the economic impact of
We believe that this results from their differing motivations, they
want to learn English, or send money home to their families."
"They tend to be more willing to work flexibly, and be satisfied with
their duties, terms and conditions and productivity requirements.
In the long term, this could have a positive effect on their domestic
colleagues. Polish builders, and other Eastern European tradesmen and
women, have been praised for the standards of their work since arriving
in large numbers in recent years.
Sainsbury's said its use of immigrant labour in retail and distribution
had grown significantly in the past two years. Its comments are likely
to reignite the debate about the work ethic of British employees.
We anticipate that the use of migrant workers will increase within
Sainsbury's, as the UK population declines, and it will also help us, in
part, to address the problem of an ageing population, it told the Lords
economic affairs select committee.
We have been able to utilise immigrant labour to improve our business
performance by filling pressing gaps in both skilled and unskilled
The food giant stressed that it had seen a positive shift in culture
where migrant workers have been introduced, which has led to a more
diverse workforce fostering a more engaged group of workers in some
It also admitted that the influx of immigrant employees had led it to
reappraise some of its work practices, such as greater flexibility to
allow Polish HGV drivers to return home regularly which had benefited
the wider worforce.
Workers from Eastern Europe earn enough money to improve their
lifestyles back in their home country.
Sainsbury's also said that more could be done to help migrant workers
get advice on housing, banking, language and understanding the UK
Language barriers are a disadvantage, and migrants understanding of
health and safety requirements are naturally a major concern, said the
company, which has changed its signs and places migrant workers with
English-speaking colleagues, as well as using fellow employees as
Meanwhile, Professor David Blanchflower, who sits on the Bank of
England's monetary policy committee, suggested to the peers that
immigration from Eastern Europe had dampened down wage growth because it
had increased the fear of unemployment with more workers available for
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggested that
382,000 Eastern Europeans had arrived in the UK since their countries
joined the European Union in 2004.