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NEXT Should Heed PM On Living Wage

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lord Wolfson Tory Chair Of Next Should Heed Prime Minister’s Call To Pay Living Wage Pay £7.85 And £9.20 Per Hour In London

NEXT should make work pay so that staff would not need their meagre wages to be topped up by taxpayers with family tax credits and housing benefits to make ends meet says GMB.

GMB, the union for retail workers, is calling on Lord Wolfson, the Tory chair of NEXT, to heed the Prime Minister’s call to pay his staff at least £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London. See notes to editors for copy of the story on BBC on 17th January 2015.

NEXT employ 50,000 workers at over 500 stores, call centres and warehouses in the UK and Ireland.

NEXT currently pay £6.70 per hour to those 21 and over and £5.84 to those aged 18 to 20. GMB is aware of that many jobs are for 12.5 hours per week or less in some stores. Some store staff may get a bonus which the company claim can amount to an additional 4% to 7% on hourly rates. This will leave the majority of staff well below a living wage of £7.85 per hour and £9.20per hour in London.

In 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 2014 that it was generating more cash than can be invested in the business so it paid a special £300m dividend to shareholders.

Last year GMB supported a national tour with musician Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott to put public pressure on retailer NEXT to pay staff at least £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London as a step towards the £10 per hour living set by GMB Congress.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for retail staff, said “Tory peer Lord Wolfson, chair of very profitable NEXT, should heed the call by Prime Minister David Cameron to pay £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London.

It is time NEXT made work pay. If this was done, staff would not need their meagre wages to be topped up by taxpayers with family tax credits and housing benefits so as to make ends meet.

GMB members tell us that in their experience you need at least £10 an hour and a full working week to have a decent life free from benefits and tax credits. Less than £10 an hour means just existing not living. It means a life of isolation, unable to socialise. It means a life of constant anxiety over paying bills and of borrowing from friends, family and pay day loan sharks just to make ends meet.

NEXT says that it is over-subscribed when offering jobs. This is a reflection on the level of youth unemployment across Europe not that NEXT jobs are so good.”

End

Contact: Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Inclusion & Diversity Officer on 07956 237178 or Mick Rix GMB National Officer on 07971 268343 or Martin Smith GMB National Organiser on 07974 251722 or GMB press office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

Report on BBC on 17 January 2015

Firms should boost wages after oil price fall, says PM

Companies profiting from falling oil prices should pass on the benefits by increasing workers' wages, Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested.

He also urged employers to pay the "living wage", which is higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50 an hour.

Figures show record earnings in the manufacturing and service sectors as firms benefit from cheaper oil.

Labour has campaigned on the cost of living and said there was a difference between the PM's rhetoric and reality.

The price of a barrel of oil has fallen to less than $50 in recent months - less than half its value last summer - amid falling demand and increased US shale field production.

Speaking to reporters at the White House during a two-day visit to the US, Mr Cameron was asked whether he would encourage firms to pass on some of the windfall profits from falling oil prices in higher pay.

Mr Cameron was speaking to reporters during his visit to Washington

He said: "Obviously I want to see companies' success passed through in terms of wage increases.

"It has to be done in a way that's affordable, and in a way that companies can continue to grow, we need to see productivity increase."

Mr Cameron said companies "that can afford to pay the living wage should".

He said: "It's good and helps to reduce the welfare bill."

He added: "Falling oil prices is going to benefit a lot of businesses and a lot of countries and we want to see those benefits passed through in all the ways they can be."

'Worse off'

More than 1,000 UK employers currently pay the living wage, an informal benchmark based on the amount an individual is calculated to need to cover the basic costs of living.

Promoted by the Living Wage Foundation, it is currently £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 an hour outside the capital.

Mr Cameron had previously indicated that he supports the idea of the living wage.

He told reporters in Washington that sticking to the government's economic plan was the only sustainable way to create jobs and raise living standards.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who has long talked about the "cost of living crisis", has said he favoured including the living wage in his party's manifesto for the general election.

In response to Mr Cameron's comments in the US, a Labour Party spokesman told the BBC the coalition was the first government since the 1920s to leave people worse off at the end a parliament than at the beginning.

The party has argued that most people are yet to benefit from the recovery in the UK economy as there has been below-inflation wage rises and a squeeze on living standards under the coalition.

 

 

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