GMB UNION members working for Wilko are furious over a threat that the company is to turn on them and impose draconian cuts. It is already set to slash sickness pay for tens of thousands of retail and distribution workers.
The company plans to cut sick pay entitlement for every member of staff in stores and distribution centres.
Plus there will be no company sick pay after the first occasion of sickness – anyone who has been with the company for less than a year is entitled to no sick pay at all from Wilko. Even long-standing staff will only be eligible for sick pay on one occasion per year.
Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said: ‘GMB members were prepared for industrial action over punishing weekend rotas. Only last ditch talks at ACAS prevented a strike which would have crippled the supply to stores.
‘Now Wilko management wants to cut sick pay for staff in stores and for distribution workers.
‘GMB members are furious that Wilko would turn on its dedicated workforce and slash company sick pay. What has Wilko become? Picking a fight with your workforce by imposing draconian cuts to sick pay is no way for a modern employer to act.
‘Hard-working employees will be pushed into poverty because they won’t be able to pay their bills if they are sick. Other workers will be forced to come into stores when sick because Wilko has taken away their sick pay.
‘GMB members are rightly going to fight this and their union will support them.’
- At the same time, urgent talks are being sought by Unite the union as pork producer Tulip Ltd announced that it was consulting on the future of its West Midlands plant at Tipton – with the threat to more than 600 jobs.
Unite, which has more than 200 members at the site, said the news is ‘devastating’ for the workforce.
Its regional officer Rick Coyle warned: ‘We will be considering the serious implications of today’s announcement very closely.
‘I will be seeking urgent talks with the management to see what can be done to save this site, and also what redeployment opportunities there may be. I will be meeting our shop stewards for detailed discussions on Friday (6 March).
‘Unite’s top priority will be the welfare of our members and their families at this difficult time – we will be giving them maximum support in the days and weeks ahead.’
It is understood that the firm has proposed to transfer operations from the West Midlands site to alternative sites within its UK network placing 642 roles at Tipton at risk of redundancy.
- The decision to sack and re-employ 300 workers on inferior pay and conditions at a coffee processing plant in Banbury, Oxfordshire will be strongly opposed, Unite has also warned.
The union threw down the gauntlet after talks with the management at JD Egberts Kenco adjourned when the company served notice to dismiss and re-engage its entire workforce at Banbury – before any consultation process had started.
Unite’s 300-plus members at the Ruscote Avenue site, which produces Kenco Tassimo and Millicano, pledged to campaign against the decision and take the workers’ case to the company’s most senior executives.
National officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: ‘In nearly 30 years of union work I have never encountered such a negative approach from an employer to ignore the established consultation and negotiating procedures. It has come like a bolt out of the blue.
‘If the multinational company is having difficulties at Banbury, Unite is prepared to engage constructively – but what we won’t put up with is strong-arm tactics which unilaterally destroy employment. We call on the company to withdraw its ‘‘sack and re-employ’’ diktat and enter into meaningful negotiations.
‘Meanwhile, Unite is lobbying for the support of European affiliated trade unions and global trade unions. We will not stand by and see our members’ livelihoods destroyed, and the collateral damage to the local Banbury economy and social fabric. The campaign now moves into top gear.’
- Anglian Water is set to cut 200 jobs – with such cutbacks already placing a question mark over jobs in Lincolnshire. The utility company has confirmed it will be shaving 200 posts from its workforce, but has not yet revealed where and when the jobs will be lost.
Some 100 posts will go through ‘natural attrition’, while 100 people will face redundancy through targeted losses. Anglian Water employs several hundreds of people at its Lincoln office.
An Anglian Water spokesperson has said: ‘As a consequence of the very challenging Final Determination of our business plan for the next five years, we’re having to make a number of operational efficiencies.
‘We are doing all we can to look for savings that don’t result in redundancies, but regrettably we will be removing around 200 posts across all areas of the business. ‘Most of this will be through natural attrition and by not filling vacant roles, but it is likely there will be around 100 targeted redundancies.
‘Our aim throughout is to protect the core business and the service we provide our customers.’
- Over 50 staff at an online tuition company forced into administration are having to search desperately for new jobs, after being left without a month’s pay, as they lost their positions at Exemplar Education in Maidstone, due to the business suffering ‘a period of sustained cash flow pressure’.
The company had several sites across the UK and in total, 181 redundancies were made, including 56 in Maidstone. One employee at the Hermitage Lane business says she is ‘absolutely fuming’ after the sudden news.
The staff member, who does not want to be named, said she received a text asking her to attend a meeting last Thursday, where it was announced the company was going into administration.
‘We were told to pack our things and leave by 3pm,’ she said. ‘I no longer had a job. I was absolutely fuming. The manager said he was heartbroken but looked like he was about to laugh.’
‘Lots of people were panicking as they didn’t know how they were going to pay their bills. But the managers just didn’t seem to care,’ the employee added.
Staff at the company, which offers virtual maths and English lessons, were given a printed fact sheet explaining ‘what do if you’ve been made redundant’.
An online government service should allow all employees to claim the money they are owed, including the outstanding February wages. But payments can take up to six weeks to process.
The employee said: ‘Luckily for me, I haven’t got children or too many bills to pay at the moment, so I’m not too bad. But there were a lot of single mums made redundant and they might really struggle while waiting for that money to come through. Six weeks is a long time.
‘In January, we were given a letter saying we would be paid that month – which we thought was strange because we didn’t ever think we wouldn’t be. But when we asked our boss about it, he said he “only knew what we knew”.
‘My colleague thought we should be looking for new jobs because things were just all a bit weird – the manager was out of the office a lot more than usual, for example. But I didn’t think I needed to look for a new job unless we’d been told to.’
FRP Advisory was appointed as the administrators of EBS Systems, which traded as Exemplar Education, and the remaining business has been bought by the Student Support Centre, with 74 people keeping their jobs, including eight in Maidstone.
The Student Support Centre has been approached for a comment.