STAFF have been suspended and a probe launched into the alleged misuse of shopping vouchers at a major South Tyneside store.
About seven staff were suspended last week at Tesco, in Towers Place, off Newcastle Road, Simonside, South Shields.
The Gazette understands an investigation has been launched by Tesco management into staff using discount vouchers meant for loyal customers.
A worker at the store, who didn’t want to be identified, said: “The vouchers allow customers to get money off their bills if they spend a certain amount at the store.
“Customers, who perhaps don’t shop at Tesco that often, have been giving the vouchers to staff, many of whom didn’t know they were doing anything wrong by taking them.
“But I’ve checked in my company handbook, and I cannot see anything in the rules forbidding this.
“From what we’ve been told, workers who have been suspended could face the sack.”
There are claims agency workers could have be drafted in to cover for the suspended staff.
Coun Margaret Peacock, who represents the Bede ward on South Tyneside Council, and works at the Simonside store, where she is also a union representative, refused to comment on the probe or the suspensions.
George Cain, area organiser for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), visited the store yesterday, where he spoke to union representatives.
He said: “An investigation is under way at the store, where seven or eight people have been suspended.
“These staff are not at work while the investigation is taking place, which is normal.
“Some of the staff have never experienced this kind of thing before and we hope this matter is concluded as quickly as possible, because this is very unsettling for everyone at the store.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “We are currently conducting an investigation at our Towers Place store.
“We do not comment on internal procedures or their outcomes.”