WORSE then a zero-hour contact, supermarket giant Marks & Spencers will only guarantee their staff at the Swindon distribution depot seven hours of work a week, the GMB union has said.
Seven hours of work would earn a worker at the depot just £45.50 to live on, significantly less then even Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). GMB has compared this appalling low wage to the amount awarded to Marc Bolland the M&S chief executive who received a £2.1 million pound bonus.
GMB said: ‘M&S Swindon workers challenge Marc Bolland, who got big bonus yesterday, to try living on the £45.50 he pays them for a week. He should find out what it’s like to get a text in the morning telling them they have no work that day. The Board awarding a £2.1 million bonus to chief executive Marc Bolland, £1.4m to Steve Rowe head of food, £1.1 m to John Dixon clothes boss and £1.04 to another manager Laura Wade-Gery on the back of sales rising 0.4% in a year.
‘Last month GMB commenced legal proceedings for 240 members employed by an agency at the Swindon Distribution on £6.50 per hour minimum wage compared with direct staff paid up to £2 per hour higher. Under the Agency Workers Directive this is illegal after 12 weeks. GMB’s claim is that M&S is improperly using a loophole in the law, known as the Swedish Derogation and that this should cease.’
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said ‘Marc Bolland has been handed this enormous bonus due to an increase of the profits from Marks and Spencer, a Company that trades on its Ethical stance. These profits have been earned of the backs of workers in their supply chain who work on precarious contracts for minimum wages, and never know from one week to another if they will be able to pay their rent or feed their children.
‘They get a text in the morning telling them they have no work that day, or come in to work only to be sent home after 2 hours. Workers at their distribution centre in Swindon are only guaranteed 7 hours work a week on minimum wage, a total of £45.50. This is how Marks and Spencer have made these profits, by using exploitative, precarious contracts and unethical treatment of workers in their supply chain.
‘We challenge Marc Bolland to try living, just for one week, on the £45.50 he expects these distribution workers to live on. Take up this challenge, and find out what its like to work in your supply chain.’
Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary, added ‘There could be no stronger illustration of how M&S behave like sharks while hypocritically pretending to be angels, than the huge bonus paid to their chief executive, Mr Bolland and other managers when M&S’s profits have been boosted by the unethical exploitation of agency workers at their Swindon distribution centre.
‘Hundreds of agency staff are paid on minimum wage, and guaranteed only 7 hours per week, and have the indignity of anxiously waiting every day to see whether they get a text message indicating whether they are needed for work, or whether they will lose a day’s pay. The agency workers are paid up to £2 per hour less than other staff doing exactly the same work.’
GMB has launched 240 Employment Tribunal claims, as we believe that the contracts are not only unethical but also unlawful. GMB said: ‘M&S cannot wash their hands of moral responsibility here, as M&S’s own “Global Sourcing Guidelines” indicate that they not only supervise their supply and distribution contractors, but also states that M&S must pre-approve all sub-contracting. At the Swindon M&S distribution centre, hundreds of vulnerable and low paid workers have been exploited for years through unethical subcontracting to employment agencies, and M&S should have known. GMB calls on them to conduct a full investigation, and to address the injustice.’
Meanwhile, tube union leaders have accused London Underground bosses of demanding a no-strike deal as part of annual pay negotiations. RMT, ASLEF and TSSA officials met LU representatives at ACAS conciliation service, to try to settle a rapidly escalating dispute over pay and working conditions in a bid to avoid strike action. However, TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: ‘The offer is dependent on all the unions agreeing to a no strike commitment for the duration of the two-year deal – this is a no-strike deal by the back door.’
ASLEF told News Line yesterday: ‘The union has been told that, unless drivers agree to the rosters, which include all night services on Friday and Saturday nights, they will be imposed and no pay offer will be made this year.
Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s district organiser, said: ‘LUL has closed down the negotiations and written to us to say that they intend to go ahead and implement new rosters, with unlimited weekend and night shifts, without agreement. The only discussion they have offered are ‘workshops’ on the fine details of their plan.
‘Our members are entitled to a family life and to some sort of work/life balance. We aren’t opposed to all night services but we want them introduced in a fair and sensible way which rewards staff for their hard work and the contribution they make to the success of the London Underground. Sadly, because the company refuses to negotiate seriously, we are left with no other choice than to ballot our members on industrial action.’
•l Over £1bn worth of funding will be taken from social care services in the next year alone, leaving thousands of elderly and disabled people unable to perform basic tasks such as dressing, eating and washing, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned. This comes as demands rise by the elderly population meaning those receiving a service will now have to accept lower levels of support, according to the report by the experts.
ADASS president Ray James said: ‘Short-changing social care is short-sighted and short-term. It must also be short-lived if we are going to avoid further damage to the lives of older and vulnerable people who often will have no one else but social care to turn to. It is vitally important these care and support services are protected.’
ADASS, who produced the report warned this would add to the pressure already put on the NHS echoing opinions by health service leaders who said the NHS would not survive another five years of austerity if no money was put into social care and hospitals. Adult social services have already suffered from £4.6bn since 2009 and are now preparing for a further £1bn cut, resulting in a predicted £4.3bn black hole in social care funding in England by 2020.
Izzie Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: ‘The necessity for further budget savings worth £1.1bn combined with other pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and escalating costs mean that despite councils’ best efforts they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide. This cannot continue.’