Tesco has been accused of leaving its Northern Ireland employees out of the company's national celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Special commemoration badges which will be worn by all Tesco staff in the rest of its UK stores were also sent to all stores here, but were quickly recalled by the company.
The directive to return the badges came too late for the store in Limavady, and staff there were already wearing them when management said they had to give them back.
This led to a realisation that Tesco Northern Ireland employees were being treated differently from staff in England, Scotland and Wales.
Limavady councillors Jack Rankin and Edwin Stevenson, who first highlighted the discrepancy, called for the company to treat all its workers equally.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has also weighed into the row, saying: “Unless Tesco rectify this situation as a matter of urgency then this will be a monumental PR cock-up for them.
“In Limavady, it was only when (staff) were asked to take (the badges) off and give them back that they realised they were being discriminated against.
“If it wasn't for the mistake in the Limavady store not one employee of Tesco anywhere in Northern Ireland would have known they were being treated differently from their colleagues in the rest of the United Kingdom.
“But now that they have been found out, Tesco needs to rectify this situation as quickly as possible,” Mr Campbell added.
Limavady UUP councillor Mr Stevenson was contacted by staff at the local store. He said: “I really do not think anyone would have been offended by these badges.
“It is ironic that Tesco — who prides itself on being a great British store — is shutting out the employees from Northern Ireland from a great British celebration, but they would seriously need to address this mistake while they still can.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco confirmed that the badges were not for distribution in Northern Ireland and were meant only for staff in the rest of the UK.
She said: “We want our stores across the UK to be part of the summer of celebrations, and we sent out jubilee kits to help them get behind this weekend's events.
“In Northern Ireland we decided to do things slightly differently, and are supporting the Tourist Board's Our Time Our Place campaign by celebrating the Great Northern Irish Summer.
“Our stores in Northern Ireland were sent the standard jubilee kits by mistake, and we are sorry for any confusion this has caused,” she said.
“However, we know that many of our customers and staff in Northern Ireland do want to be part of the jubilee celebrations, which is why all the jubilee memorabilia, accessories and party decorations are on sale in our Northern Ireland stores.”
SDLP MP Mark Durkan said Northern Ireland does merit different treatment. He added: “I am not going to second guess Tesco staffing policies, but there are sensitivities in Northern Ireland that do not exist elsewhere.
“How the company address those is a matter for Tesco, in terms of both staff and customers.
“Some Tesco staff may have had issues around these badges, whether wearing them was the choice of the individual or not.
“Wearing them may have caused offence to some, and not wearing them may have caused offence to others.”
We reign supreme as most easily offended
By Fionola Meredith
Sadly, it was only a matter of time before someone got offended over the Diamond Jubilee.
A selection of red, white and blue cupcakes have been quietly accumulating in Marks and Spencer’s stores for several weeks now, but no-one batted an eyelid.
Even a big cake with a Union Jack on top (right) passed without comment (who knows, it might even come in useful over the Twelfth).
I started to think that maybe the jubilee would pass without anyone getting outraged.
Perhaps we had reached the stage of social maturity that would allow us to rise above such minor concerns.
Ideally, those who wished to celebrate the jubilee could do so in their own way, whether that's a street celebration, a church service or swinging from the chandeliers wearing nothing but a sparkly tiara.
The rest of us could maintain a benign indifference: not necessarily wanting to take part ourselves, but happy for the royalists to get on with the party.
No such luck. A row started when a box of jubilee badges was accidentally sent to a Tesco store in Limavady, not for sale but for staff to wear.
They never should have been sent in the first place — the badges were destined for store-workers in England and Wales, who are less likely to have an allergic reaction to the sight of a Union flag.
The badges were withdrawn, but in trying to avoid a row it seems that Tesco has inadvertently caused a bigger one.
Of course store-workers should not be compelled to wear a symbol that is antithetical to their political identity. But in the great scheme of the universe, it's a tiny issue, a mere bubble in the jubilee Champagne.
When it comes to flags, we need to learn not to sweat the small stuff.