Tesco Shop Closes After Protest Over Government Work Scheme (PICTURES)
Police were called to a demonstration in a central London Tesco store on Saturday over a job advert that appeared earlier this week, offering a night shift position with wages listed only as 'JSA plus expenses'.
Around a dozen protesters sat down or stood by the tills at the Tesco Express branch on Westminster Bridge Road, opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The right to work campaigners, who forced the shop to close to customers, were demonstrating over a job advert which looked for permanent workers in exchange for expenses and jobseeker's allowance.
A twitter storm erupted in response to the advert, with many social media users tweeting their reaction and using the hashtag #boycotttesco.
Tesco has amended the "misunderstood" advert and says it was down to a mistake, but the row has rumbled on.
As many police officers as protesters were sent to break up the small demonstration.
The campaigners chanted: "Tesco bosses hear us say, we won't work if you won't pay."
They also held signs based on the supermarket giant's advertising catchphrase, which read: "Tesco. Exploitation. Every little helps."
Twitter and Facebook users had highlighted the advert for a night shift worker at a store in west Suffolk on the Jobseekers' Plus website.
It was offered under the Government's "sector-based work academy scheme" which is linked to payment of benefits - but Tesco said the impression that it was seeking to replace full-time workers was mistaken.
The error comes after unions called for high street chains to withdraw from Government programmes that require the unemployed to work for up to six months or face losing their benefits.
The strength of feeling generated by the advert has made other companies question their involvement. Matalan has withdrawn from the Department of Work and Pensions' scheme and Tesco has called on DWP to remove the threat that jobseekers would lose their benefits if they did not take part. A spokesman told the Independent:
"We understand the concern that those who stay in the scheme longer than a week risk losing their benefits if they drop out before the end of their placement. We have suggested to the DWP that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature, this threat of losing benefit should be removed."
Waterstones, Sainsbury's and TK Maxx have also criticised the academy scheme.
Tesco has explained that the advert was "a mistake caused by an IT error by Jobcentre Plus" which was being rectified. It was an advert for work experience with a guaranteed job interview at the end of it as part of a Government-led work experience scheme.
However, the campaigners pressed on with the protest at the Portcullis House store