GMB Swindon M&S Distribution Depot Shop Stewards In Brussels On 21st Jan At EU Parliament On Agency Workers Exploitation
EU and MEPs to be made aware that paying agency workers £2 per hour less for the same work as the direct staff exploits a loophole in European Agency Workers’ law known as the “Swedish Derogation” and that the loophole must be closed says GMB.
Rosseby Carvalho and Domingos Dias, GMB shop stewards from Marks and Spencer distribution depot in Swindon, will visit the European Parliament on 21st January to explain how the “Swedish Derogation” loophole in the EU Agency Directive, which allows companies to avoid equal treatment of workers through use of permanent contracts with the agency, is abused by companies like Marks and Spencer to underpay staff.
UK trade unions, through the TUC, submitted a formal complaint to the EU Commission on this issue in September 2013. The EU Directive is very clear that Member States must ensure measures are taken to stop practices aimed at avoidance of the equal treatment rights under the directive. GMB believes this derogation is being exploited with the very aim of avoidance.
GMB has arranged for them to meet a senior EU Commission official for Employment, Social Legislation and Social Dialogue (deleted longer title) leading on Agency worker legislation. They will also meet British MEPs, Siôn Simon, and Clare Moody, and the leader of the Labour Party Group, Glenis Willmott. They will also meet the Swedish MEP Marita Ulvskog, and the German MEP Jutta Steinruck.
The Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre is now run for M&S by DHL who took over from Wincanton on 3rd January 2015. The majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through DHL/Wincanton. There have been several GMB protests about how members are treated on site. See notes to editors for copies of recent GMB press releases.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, says “Not only are these M&S distribution staff only paid minimum wage of £6:50 per hour, but they are guaranteed only 7 hours per week. They live in a state of permanent anxiety, not knowing whether they will get enough work in any week to pay their bills and feed their families
Marks and Spencer claim to be an ethical employer, but they need to clean up their act in their UK distribution chain, where GMB members suffer from sharp practices and aggressive management, and where unethical legal loopholes are used to deny workers a wage that allows them to live in dignity.
Although Marks and Spencer chooses to outsource employment in their distribution chain to other companies, these are M&S warehouses, storing M&S goods, transported on M&S lorries to M&S stores, to be sold to M&S customers, making profits for M&S shareholders. The outsourcing, and use of so called “umbrella companies” to cut staffing costs to the bone is itself unethical.
GMB believes it is extremely useful to be able to facilitate a conversation between exploited low-paid workers and the MEPs who are able to help shape employment law. We also want to let companies like Marks and Spencer know that they cannot behave like sharks, and then pretend to be angels
GMB shop stewards will make EU and MEPs aware that paying agency workers £2 per hour less for the same work as the direct staff exploits a loophole in European law known as the “Swedish Derogation” and that the loophole must be closed.”
Contact: 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 Kathleen Walker Shaw in Brussels on 07841 181549 or 07776 238 327 GMB Press Office 07921 289 880
Notes to editors
Copy of recent GMB press releases.
GMB December press release:
GMB POSTPONE STRIKE BALLOT AT MARKS &SPENCER SWINDON DISTRIBUTION DEPOT AFTER REINSTATEMENT OF MEMBERS SACKED AFTER BEING SUBJECT TO RACIST ABUSE
Marks and Spencer and Wincanton must deal with racist manager and if he has not been dealt with then we will restart our campaign says GMB
GMB has agreed to postpone a consultative ballot on strike action for members employed at Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon after the reinstatement of two members who were sacked after they were subject to racist abuse of staff by a manager.
In addition GMB has postponed the protest planned for Friday 12th December outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon.
On Monday 1st December, two GMB members of Indian heritage were approached by a white manager employed by Wincanton and falsely accused of talking instead of working. One of the manager said “I am going to teach you Indian bastards a lesson”. GMB members were then shut in a room, and then escorted from the site. They were then permanently excluded i.e. sacked. One of the sacked and victimised staff is Mr Domingos Dias a GMB shop steward for the site.
The Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre is run by Wincanton on behalf of M&S but the majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton. There have been several GMB protests about how members are treated on site. See notes to editors for copies of recent GMB press releases.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Officer, said, “It is fantastic news that Wincanton have retracted the disgraceful sacking of two GMB members after a racist manager called them 'Indian bastards'. GMB will not tolerate racism.
I held a mass meeting today with members from the evening shift, and they have agreed to postpone the consultative strike ballot and to postpone the planned Friday protest outside Marks and Spencer.
Our members are delighted that standing strong together has secured this victory. Yesterday there was a 100% solid boycott of the Wincanton christmas lunch on the late shift by GMB members in solidarity with their sacked colleagues.
However, we do expect that Marks and Spencer and Wincanton will deal with this racist manager. We are awaiting confirmation that he has been suspended. If we find that he has not been dealt with, then we will restart our campaign."
Copy of November GMB press release
GMB PROTESTS IN OUTSIDE M&S STORE SLOUGH TUE 19TH NOVEMBER AGAINST VICTORIAN WORKING CONDITIONS AT SWINDON DISTRIBUTION CENTRE
The way M&S is acting the letters M&S could stands for Marley and Scrooge over the mean spirited way these workers are being treated over the Christmas period says GMB
GMB members, employed by Tempay Ltd at a Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Swindon, will protest outside M&S’s store in High Street Slough on Tuesday 18th November over being required to work six days every week until January with only one day off in a 14 day period.
More than 150 formal grievances have been submitted to Tempay Ltd about the Christmas work rotas, from among their 500 staff on the site.
The Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Swindon is run by Wincanton. However most of the staff are employed by an employment agency, 24.7 Recruitment. They are then formally employed through a further company, called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton.
The details of the protest are as follows:
From 10.15 am on Tuesday 18th November
Outside Marks and Spencer,
147 High St,
Berkshire SL1 1DP
50 protesters mainly employed by Tempay Ltd, at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon will attend.
They will have a 3 metre banner reading “Marks and Spencer, ethical trading starts at home”. Some will be dressed in Victorian costumes as Marley and Scrooge, and will hand in a large placard saying “M&S Marley and Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, Victorian Working Conditions”.
GMB is also calling on Marks and Spencer to address the pay inequalities between workers carrying out the same work on their behalf. The loophole in the law which allows companies to pay staff doing the same job a different wage is under Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations – otherwise known as the Swedish derogation. But while the practice is legal, GMB members say it is unethical and runs against the Marks and Spencer ethos. See notes to editors for GMB press release on an earlier GMB protest on this.
Andy Newman, GMB branch secretary, said “Despite the arms-length relationship that Marks and Spencer chooses to have with these workers, this is an M&S warehouse, where M&S products are stored and dispatched to M&S stores, to be sold to M&S customers to make profits for M&S shareholders.
The way M&S is acting the letters M&S could stands for Marley and Scrooge, the mean spirited way these workers are being treated over the Christmas period. GMB members accuse M&S of getting the Ghost of Christmas Past to draw up these contracts with Victorian working conditions”
Our members are saying “Bah Humbug!” to M&S. We asked M&S to sort this out, and they failed to do so, which is why our members are protesting outside the store in Slough.
The difference between how the Wincanton and Tempay workers are being treated is a miserly attempt to push down wage costs over the Christmas period, that Scrooge would have been proud of.
Marks and Spencer claim to have an ethical supply chain when it comes to their overseas manufacturing suppliers. GMB is calling for them to take the same interest in ethical business much closer to home.”
copy of GMB August press release
GMB “ABBA” PROTEST ON 13TH AUGUST AT WINCANTON CHIPPENHAM OVER SWINDON AGENCY WORKERS UNDERPAID BY £2 PER HOUR BY USE OF SWEDISH DEROGATION
Words of Mamma Mia perfectly sum up their position with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end” says GMB
GMB members employed by employment agency Tempay in Swindon will mount an ABBA themed protest outside the headquarters of Wincanton Logistics in Chippenham on 13th August, at 10:00 am in a dispute over pay.
At a Swindon distribution depot in South Marston, operated by Wincanton on behalf of a household name retail giant, the majority of permanent warehouse staff by employed through an agency called Tempay. Many of these staff have been working at the same site on permanent assignment for several years, but using Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations these staff are guaranteed only 7 or 8 hours work per week, and are paid only minimum wage. This is nearly £2 per hour pay than the warehouse staff employed directly for Wincanton.
The details of the protest are as follows:
10am on Wednesday 13th August
Wiltshire SN14 0WT
GMB members will be dressed as ABBA, with Swedish flags and placards, and there will be a photo opportunity as a GMB “corporate ASBO” is handed into the Wincanton HQ , to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation. They will sing words of Mamma Mia which perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”.
GMB consider that Wincanton are unethically using Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) to avoid giving effect to Section 5, relating to equal pay. Since the Agency Workers Regulations came into force in 2011, agency workers are guaranteed no less favourable treatment for terms and conditions and working conditions after completing a qualifying period of 12 weeks. However, a legal loophole under section 10, also called the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to pay less, if they guarantee a small payment between assignments.
Andy Newman, Wiltshire GMB branch secretary, said “We have around 200 GMB members out of 280 permanent staff with contracts with Tempay. Our members complain of the arbitrary management regime where individuals can be sent home or called in at the whim of supervisors, and where any raising of legitimate health and safety or other issues can lead to hours being reduced to the contractual minimum”
GMB will be presenting a corporate ASBO to Wincanton, to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation.
Our members feel that the words of Mamma Mia perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”
GMB calls upon Tempay to pay our members the rate for the job, and for Tempay to go back to their client, Wincanton, and ask them to cease the unethical use of Section 10 of the AWR”.
Copy of GMB September press release
GMB Hold Further Protest At Wincanton Swindon Depot On Friday 26th September In Pay Dispute
A promised meeting with Wincanton over workers paid £2 per hour less has not taken place and GMB will not take this lying down.
GMB, the union for staff employed by agency Tempay at Wincanton distribution depot in Swindon, will hold further demonstration on Friday 26 September over the continued refusal of the company to meet the union in the dispute over pay.
200 GMB members at the depot are paid £2 per hour less pay than the warehouse staff employed directly for Wincanton. The depot is operated for a major UK retailer.
Many GMB members have been working at the same site on permanent assignment for several years employed by the agency. Under Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations ( called the Swedish derogation) Wincanton is able to guarantee these staff only 7 hours work per week, and pay them only minimum wage.
The details of the protest are as follows:
From 12 Midday on Friday 26th September
outside Wincanton depot,
South Marston Industrial Estate,
Wiltshire SN3 4TT
GMB members will be dressed as ABBA, with Swedish flags and placards, and a GMB “corporate ASBO” will be handed into the Wincanton distribution depot , to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation. They will sing words of Mamma Mia which perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I’ve been cheated by you since I don’t know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”. The will be joined by popular Swindon Labour Councillor, Nadine Watts, dressed as Agnetha Fältskog; and by Devizes Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Watts.
Chris Watts, GMB Branch President, said “ A promised meeting with Wincanton has not taken place and GMB will not take this lying down.
Many members have told me that due to their Swedish Derogation contracts they can be working for 37.5 hours one week, and then the next week can be cut back to 7 hours. This leaves them feeling very precarious, and you can see how this would lead them to be reluctant to assert their rights".
GMB calls upon Tempay to pay our members the rate for the job, and for Tempay to go back to their client, Wincanton, and ask them to cease the unethical use of Section 10 of the AWR. It is time for Wincanton to pay up”.