Questions raised over Tesco eligibility for intern scheme


THE DEPARTMENT of Social Protection has “sought clarification” on the eligibility of Tesco’s application for more than 200 interns through a Government scheme.

The supermarket giant is to meet trade union Mandate on Friday over concerns about the impact of the positions on staff hours.

Among the interns being sought by the supermarket giant through the JobBridge programme are “customer assistants”. These six-month positions were advertised on Friday but were since removed from the JobBridge website. The full-time roles included “filling shelves” and “ensuring customers would not have to queue”.

Among the potential skills gain for the intern were “rotation of stock” “customer service skills” and “management of waste and damages”, according to the advert.

The supermarket giant applied to JobBridge for 218 interns who would be paid €50 by the department on top of their social welfare payments, the department said.

The department has “sought clarification on these applications from Tesco Ireland to determine their eligibility for the scheme”.

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light said the internships were due to take place over Christmas, which was Tesco’s busiest trading period.

Mandate said the placements seemed to be “against the spirit” of the scheme and asked if it required six months when training for permanent staff took two weeks. Mr Light was concerned about the impact of the scheme on part-time staff who were hoping for extra hours over Christmas.

In a statement, Tesco said the internships were “not designed to fill any gaps in our workforce”.

The roles would provide experience “in every aspect of work in a fast-moving modern and innovative retail environment. Areas will include customer service, merchandising and back office support,” it added.

Tesco said it wanted to “help get people back to work”. It announced 522 new jobs this year and interns would have the chance to apply for positions when they arise, the company said.

The department said applications must meet criteria including not displacing an employee and giving significant experience.

It is monitoring internships and random site visits will begin shortly. Whistleblowing had been introduced for breach of criteria, including job displacement, it said.