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M&S guarantee workers 7 hours per week

Friday, June 5, 2015

M&S Swindon workers challenge Marc Bolland, who got big bonus yesterday, to try living on the £45.50 he pay them for a week to find out what it’s like to get a text in the morning telling them they have no work that day says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at Marks & Spencer (M&S) Distribution depot in Swindon, commented on 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. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release dated 29th May.

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. 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.”

End

GMB Wiltshire branch secretary, Andy Newman on 0754 0859 227, or GMB Regional Organiser, Carole Vallelly on 07912 181476 or Kevin Brandstatter 07813 207374 or Chris Watts on 01793 818 005 or 07776 238 327 GMB Press Office 07921 289 880

Notes to editors

Copy of GMB press release dated 29 May 2015:

GMB CLAIMS FOR 240 MEMBERS AT M&S SWINDON DEPOT ON NON COMPLIANCE WITH AGENCY WORKERS DIRECTIVE FOR EQUAL PAY WITH DIRECT STAFF

Rogue employers should not be allowed to abuse their staff, and we are determined to support our members' rights by pursuing these cases through the courts says GMB

GMB, the union for workers in the Marks and Spencer (M&S) distribution supply chain, has commenced legal proceedings on behalf of 240 members employed at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in South Marston, Swindon.

Marks and Spencer own this Distribution Centre. They contract the running of the site to logistics company, DHL. They in turn recruit several hundred workers through the recruitment agency, 24-7 Recruitment Services. These workers have an employment contract through yet another company, Tempay Ltd.

 DHL took over the contract to run the site in January 2015, which was previously run by another logistics company, Wincanton.

Workers employed by Tempay Ltd are employed on the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. Directly employed DHL workers doing exactly the same work, are paid up to £2 per hour higher than Tempay staff. Many of the Tempay staff have worked on the site for several years

The legal claims brought by GMB, on behalf its members, are against all four companies: DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd.

The claims relate to the Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, and which guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks. A loophole in the law, known as the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to evade these provisions for equal pay, by guaranteeing a few hours of work each week.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said "GMB has always argued that getting round the law relating to equal pay by the use of the Swedish Derogation is unethical.

On examination of the specific contracts of employment of our members used on this M&S site, we believe that the terms of these contracts seeking to avoid equal pay are unenforceable, and the attempt by the employers to evade their responsibilities to their staff is not only unethical but also unlawful.

Our members argue that over a period of years, the employers on this site have played fast and loose with the law, not only failing to follow the Agency Workers Regulations, but also failing to follow TUPE regulations that protect workers when they are transferred between businesses. GMB will not allow rogue employers to abuse their staff, and we are determined to support our members' rights by pursuing these cases through the courts.

The South Marston site is operated wholly for the benefit of Marks and Spencer. It is clear that the treatment of these workers is in breach of both M&S' Code of Ethics and Behaviour and also in breach of M&S' Global Sourcing Principles. The Global Sourcing Principles require each of M&S' suppliers, whether of goods or services, to comply with all relevant laws and regulations relating to terms of employment. See notes to editors for links to M&S global and M&S Code of Ethics.

The use of so-called Swedish Derogation contracts is also seemingly in breach of the Global Sourcing Principles which states that temporary labour arrangements must not be used to avoid obligations to workers under labour laws and regulations

M&S must question whether they have an ethical supply chain, when within their own UK distribution chain, unethical and unlawful employment practices are used. Particularly as M&S's own policies demonstrate that they exercise oversight of the practices used in their supply chain. GMB has previously raised with M&S the practices at this site, in order to give them the opportunity to resolve them, but these malpractices continue.

The GMB call on M&S to investigate the working practices at the South Marsden site. As a matter of principle GMB believes that all staff at South Marston site, who are doing the same work, should receive equal pay, whoever they work for."

NOTES

M&S global sourcing: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/documents/policy-documents/global-sourcing-principles.pdf

M&S Code of Ethics: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/documents/policy-documents/2_code-of-ethics.pdf

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