GMB members held nine protest demonstrations outside fast food outlets and M&S on Tuesday across England in solidarity with members of the SEIU working in fast food in New York City who that day were taking strike action in their campaign for $15 per hour – a real living wage.
GMB is calling for a living wage of £10 an hour now. Some of the protests were outside M&S Simply Food stores which are franchised out to Select Service Partner UK Ltd (SSP) which runs fast food outlets. The protests outside M&S were also to protest at two-tier workforce and work practices at the M&S depot in Swindon. These are the next in a series of protests outside M&S stores across the country in support of the M&S Swindon depot workers.
Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Officer, said: ‘GMB is calling on big brand owners like M&S, Starbucks, Burger King, Caffè Ritazza, Upper Crust, Whistlestop, Millie’s Cookies and other big brands to pay a living wage of £10 per hour, end zero-hours contracts and confront bullying managers to bring security to the mainly young workers at outlets in the UK’s railway stations, airports and large shopping centres.
‘GMB sister union in the USA the Service Employees International Union is holding a day of action on 10th November to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour for New York City’s fast food workers. SEIU and GMB fast food members stand in solidarity with each other. Shadowy franchise companies, such as Select Service Partners and Kout Food Group (KFG Quickserve) who often run their outlets at airports, railway stations and retail parks, have to be exposed.
‘M&S are one of the big brands who pay SSP to operate their outlets in their names in the hope of avoiding the public outrage of the low pay and poor employment terms and conditions. The big brands pay Select Service Partner UK Ltd (SSP) to operate the outlets in their names in the hope of avoiding the public outrage of the low pay and poor employment terms and conditions SSP provide for the mainly young 9,300 staff in the 2,000 fast food outlets.
‘The protests are to expose that SSP staff are paid close to the National Minimum Wage, are mostly on zero-hours contracts and can be moved to work in any of the franchises on a day-to-day basis. GMB has received complaints of insecure work, bullying, low pay and pressure to grovel to supervisors in order to get enough hours of work to make ends meet.
‘Many keep their heads above water through in-work tax credit and other benefits while SSP makes a profit of £17 million after tax. Fast food workers are among the most severely exploited of the UK workforce. They belong to the 2.6 million workers the Resolution Foundation estimates are stuck on wages just above the minimum – who are so valued by their employers they are paid as little as they can get away with.
‘On average they are paid no more than £7.20 an hour on zero-hours or tiny-hours contracts. They have a working life constantly grovelling for another shift and constantly worrying about the tax credits they need to make ends meet. They are the strivers fearful to see how much their in work benefits will be cut next year. Fast food workers want their jobs to pay their bills. They know they cannot live on any of the “living wages” they hear politicians talk about without claiming benefits.
‘GMB consider that it is time for fast food employers to make work pay.
‘A survey of GMB members carried out in 2015 found that they needed a minimum wage of £10 an hour with a full working week to live free of benefits. They know that fast food employers have used tax credits to keep their wages low for years taking millions of pounds in wage subsidies from taxpayers that they should now pay back to staff.
‘GMB members in the fast food industry want £10 per hour, contracts of employment with the hours of work people want and need, the right to seek help and support from trade unions and protection from bullying and abuse by managers and customers alike. GMB is pressing M&S to investigate the working practices at the Swindon depot site. At Swindon, mothers on the bus on their way into work, having left their children with child-minders, get text messages saying they are not needed that day.’
• Following Tory Chancellor Osborne’s announcement on Monday that four government departments have agreed to cut their spending by an average of 30% over the next four years, the GMB produced a ‘Round Up’ showing 11,766 Job Cuts in 17 Local Councils. The Transport, Local Government and Environment departments, plus the Treasury, all agreed deals involving minimum 30% cuts with Osborne ahead of his spending review on 25 November.
However, a further 30% cut will mean amputations as councils and other public services are forced to decide which services they stop providing altogether, stated the GMB. The GMB found that 17 councils across Britain have already announced a total 11,766 job cuts to meet cuts in their budget for 2016/17. This figure comes from GMB monitoring of budget fixing for 2016/17 in councils across the country.
Below are the details for 29 councils for financial year 2016/17. The details for these 17 councils are as follows:
3,000 Glasgow City Council; 2,000 Edinburgh City Council; 1,800 Cumbria Council; 1,000 North Lanarkshire Council; 700 Falkirk Council; 506 Fife council; 454 Hampshire County Council; 400 South Lanarkshire Council; 350 Walsall Council; 330 Gentoo (manager of Sunderland City Council’s housing stock); 306 Argyll and Bute; 275 Dudley Council; 250 East Sussex County Council; 200 Merthyr Tydfil Council; 100 Worcestershire County Council; 50 Cambridgeshire County Council; 45 Carlisle City Council
Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for local council workers, said on Tuesday: ‘These 11,766 job cuts are just the tip of the iceberg of the cuts yet to be revealed as councils fix budgets for 2016/17. They are in advance of the announcement that four government departments – Treasury, transport, local government and environment – have agreed to cut their spending by an average of another 30% over the next four years.
‘The full extent of the cuts will be revealed in the Spending Review on 25th November. Spending in some parts of the public sector like local councils will be half that in 2010. These same councils have to cope with increased pressures from the care sector and other upward cost pressures. The last round of local government job losses were described as cutting council services to the bone.
‘The further 30% cut will mean amputations as councils and other public services are forced to decide which services they stop providing altogether. With the cuts to come people will have more chance of winning the lottery than seeing police patrolling their streets.’
• The GMB is seeking a meeting with the National Grid to raise concerns over the announcement of the sale of its regional gas distribution networks. Members will be very worried about potential job losses and threats to terms and conditions of employment when the sale goes ahead said the GMB.
GMB, the union for gas and energy workers, commented on the National Grid announcement that it plans to sell off its regional gas distribution networks which connect customers in the West Midlands, Eastern England, North West and parts of London. The sale does not include long-distance, high-pressure transmission pipelines.
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy, said: ‘GMB had no prior warning of this announcement and it will come as a nasty surprise to the National Grid workforce in the gas networks. Members will be very worried about potential job losses and threats to terms and conditions of employment when the sale goes ahead.
‘The sale also raises serious strategic concerns about the continuing fragmentation of UK energy delivery and probable foreign ownership with ever increasing risks to system safety. For all these reasons I’m asking for an urgent meeting with National Grids chief executive Steven Holliday to raise these concerns with him and get some answers.’