Irish grocery distributor Musgrave Group denies exploiting Polish warehouse workers

The Musgrave Group, Ireland’s largest grocery distributor, has emphatically denied claims in the Polish press that Poles working in its warehouses are being exploited and discriminated against.

The Polish mass-circulation daily Gazeta Wyborcza quoted Polish workers at Musgrave’s warehouse in Dublin who said that they had been mistreated in comparison to Irish colleagues.

One told the paper: “We are treated worse than the Irish workers. We work for less money. We get about e10 (£6.80) per hour while the Irish get no less than e16 (£10.90). We get the most strenuous jobs and it hardly pays for overtime.”

But Musgrave spokeswoman Sue Lamon Diver said: “Allegations that we treat foreign workers worse than Irish nationals are absolutely and totally untrue.”

At Musgrave’s Supervalu Centra Fonthill warehouse in Dublin, immigrants supplied by agencies make up about 50% of the staff. The paper claimed it was the exploitation of Poles and other nationals that had provoked a wildcat strike by agency recruits in Musgrave warehouses at the end of April. Lamon Diver denied there had been strikes, describing the action as “unofficial stoppages” unrelated to any maltreatment of Polish workers.

A recent report by the Polish section of the Irish Independent Workers Union also found that Poles and other foreigners contracted to work at Musgrave warehouses had been paid irregularly and been threatened if they refused overtime.

But Lamon Diver said: “We reject any claims that agency workers are discriminated against and absolutely reject any claims of harassment or bullying.

“This is not an ethnic issue we also have Irish nationals recruited by agencies.”

The Musgrave corporation owns Centra and Supervalu in the Republic of Ireland, and Londis and Budgens in the UK.

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