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GMB Protests To Secure Living Wage At NEXT

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

GMB Plan Protests For Living Wage At Next Stores In May And June As Retailer Posts £695m Profits

37p pay rise will leave staff well below a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London and all the special £300m pay-out to shareholders should be spent on that says GMB.

GMB, the union for retail staff, commented on news that 20,000 NEXT staff will share a  £4m bonus in proportion to their base salaries, while staff hourly rates will also increase by 37p. see letter to staff below

On 20th March NEXT reported a 12% increase in annual profits to £695m. NEXT says it expects profits in 2014 to rise by up to £770m. NEXT said January that it is generating more cash than can be invested in the business so it will pay a special £300m pay out to shareholders.

NEXT is an employer that does not face up to its social responsibilities. GMB will use planned demos to say this £300m should be spent by NEXT to offer jobs above the 12.5 hour maximum per week in some stores and to pay staff a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London. NEXT pay £6.31 per hour to those 21 and over, £5.03 to those aged 18 to 20, £3.72 to those under 18 and £2.68 per hour to retail apprentices.

NEXT has nearly 50,000 employees at over 500 stores, call centres and warehouses in the UK and Ireland.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for retail staff, said “This pay rise while welcome will place NEXT staff 0.18p above national minimum rate of £6.50 from 1st October.  This is well below a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London. 30,000 of the 50,000 employees will get no share on the £4m bonus.

GMB in May and June will ask consumers to support our line that the special £300m pay-out to shareholders should be spent by NEXT to offer jobs above the 12.5 hour maximum per week in some stores and to pay staff a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London.

There has to be a stepping up of public pressure on NEXT to invest this £300m in better pay and longer hours for staff.  They now need their meagre wages topped up with family tax credits and housing benefits to make ends meet.

The claim that the economy will get back to pre-recession levels this year is sadly not the case. GDP per head in the UK is still 5.7% down on 2007 and real value of average earning is also down 13.8%.  There is a very long way to go to get living standards for the vast majority of workers back to pre-recession levels."

End

Contact: Kamaljeet Jandu 07956 237178 or Mick Rix 07971 268343 or Martin Smith 07974 251 823 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823.

Notes to editors

STAFF LETTER FROM SIMON WOLFSON

Dear All,

At this time last year, I wrote to let you know that the Company would pay a special bonus to qualifying staff. I am very glad to be able to write to you with the same good news this year.

In 2011 the Board awarded me an incentive scheme called a Share Matching Plan (SMP). The value of this bonus was closely linked to the value of the Company’s shares. In the last three years, thanks to everybody’s hard work, NEXT has grown its profits per share by 65% and the Company’s shares have trebled.

As a result of these exceptional gains, my SMP bonus has become more valuable than I could possibly have hoped. I am also in the very fortunate position to have significantly benefited as a shareholder. In these circumstances, instead of accepting the award, I have asked the Board if they will share it amongst all those who have worked for the Company during the three year SMP qualifying period (28 April 2011 to 28 April 2014).

The sum in question is just under £4m, and will be shared in proportion to your annual contracted salary. This works out to around 1.5% of your salary. It will be paid as a one off bonus in your May pay. I hope you will accept this bonus as a personal gesture of thanks and appreciation for all your hard work and dedication to NEXT through testing economic times.

In addition, I am pleased to let you know that we are significantly improving the rate of pay for Retail Sales Consultants and Stock Room Assistants. This year we are going to bring the annual staff pay review forward from October to June. From 1st June your hourly rate will increase by 37p an hour. Your individual rate will shortly be confirmed by letter. Your bonus and all other terms and conditions will remain unchanged. The next pay review will be in October 2015.

Over the last few months I hope you will have seen many positive changes to the way we are managing our stores. We have introduced a new bonus scheme, new recruitment processes, more hours available to work on shift market place, and a new appraisal system. We will also be looking at making better use of people’s time by re-allocating hours from quieter to busier times of day as and when vacancies arise. All these changes have two simple objectives to improve the level of service we offer our customers whilst making NEXT a more rewarding place to work.

This pay rise should be seen alongside all the other measures we are taking to improve customer service and we hope that, over coming months, you will help to take NEXT’s service from good to outstanding.

All that remains is for me to thank you for sticking with NEXT through tough times; for your hard work, common sense, enthusiasm and loyalty to the Company. Together, you have helped ensure that NEXT emerges from the Credit Crunch in better shape than it went in – well done and thank you.

Best wishes,

Simon

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