POLITICS

Tesco Reminds Poland How Many Jobs It Has Created, After Official Calls For Boycott

08/01/2014 19:19 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:53 GMT
Rui Vieira/PA Wire
File photo dated 01/08/12 of a Tesco sign as the supermarket chain reported a fresh dip in quarterly sales.

Tesco has reminded Poland that it employs "tens of thousands" of people in that country, after a senior government official called for a boycott of the British supermarket amid a war of words between David Cameron and the Polish prime minister over immigration.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Jan Bury, head of the the Polish Peasants Party (PSL), called Cameron's policies "unfriendly and scandalous towards Poland and Poles". PSL is the junior partner in prime minister Donald Tusk's coalition government.

"As Poles, we can also say 'no' to prime minister Cameron and his policies," Bury said. "We call on Poles to boycott British retailer Tesco."

A spokesman for the supermarket told HuffPost UK: "We opened our first stores in Poland nearly 20 years ago, and we're very proud to serve our Polish customers living there and in the UK .

"We're also proud to have created tens of thousands of jobs in Poland and to be making a significant contribution to the Polish economy."

The row erupted after Cameron said it was "wrong" that child benefit should be paid to support workers' families who remained in Poland and outlined plans to push for a change in the EU treaties to end the practice.

The comments drew a strong response from the Poland, with the Polish foreign minister, ambassador and prime minister criticising Cameron for singling out Poles.

At a press conference yesterday, Tusk warned that he would block moves by Cameron to overhaul EU benefit rules if they were to "stigmatise any particular national minority". The two prime ministers spoke on the phone today as the row threatened to undermine the traditionally strong relationship between London and Warsaw.

According to the Downing Street, Cameron reiterated his view that Britain should not have allowed Polish migrants unfettered access to the UK labour market in 2004, but said that all member states now had an interest in engaging with the issue.

"On EU free movement, the prime minister made clear his long-standing view, reiterated in recent days, that the lack of transitional controls for new EU member states in 2004 was the wrong approach and had put pressure on local communities; and that we need to address the impact on countries' benefits systems, including for example paying child benefit to families living abroad," a spokesperson for the prime minister said.

"The PM emphasised that this was a pan-EU issue relevant to all member states and people should engage with the substance of the PM's proposals. Moving forward, they agreed to hold further bilateral discussions on how the UK and Poland can work together to better manage the impact of intra-EU migration on social security systems."

SEE ALSO: Polish Immigrants Not In Britain To 'Grab Benefits', Insists Ambassador