Poland's largest food retailer Biedronka has expressed its "surprise" at pay protests held by some of the company's workers.

Some 200 workers held a demonstration in the Polish town of Sublice to protest against the discount chain's alleged failure to pay for overtime worked by the employees.

Biedronka told just-food today (12 December) that the company - and its owner, Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins - "treats its role as an employer very seriously".

"Within the last months, we have increased the salaries for the basic positions in the company," Biedronka said. "The lowest wage in Biedronka - PLN1400 (US$575) gross - considerably exceeds the lowest national wage by almost 50%. It is also one of the highest salaries in the retail market."

"That's why it makes us even more surprised that a group of employees has been encouraging a boycott of our stores, presenting the lack of respect towards the work of their colleagues in the whole of Poland."

Biedronka, which means ladybird in Polish, employs over 18,000 workers throughout its 1,000-strong store network in Poland.