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Swindon Residents Get Award At GMB Congress

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Swindon Residents Get Award At GMB Congress In Dublin For Campaigning For Rights For Agency Workers Against Exploitative Employers

These shop stewards are an inspiration and we are proud they are part of our union say GMB.

GMB Shop Stewards working for Tempay Ltd at a Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Swindon received received the prestigious GMB President’s Award for the “Most Inspirational Project for Making a Difference” at GMB Congress today, 7th June at GMB Congress in Dublin for fighting tirelessly for union rights and equal treatment for agency workers.   

The employer used the so-called “Swedish Derogation” to avoid legislation around equal treatment for agency workers. This meant the agency staff, most of south Asian origin, were paid minimum wage, and given 7 hour contracts despite being required for work 37 hours a week. Their campaign has achieved union recognition, and 150 permanent jobs and is now moving to fight for equal pay with directly employed staff (see notes for editors)

Tempay Shop Stewards received their award from Mary Turner, GMB National President, on Sunday 7th June along with other GMB award winners.

The 98th GMB Congress, comprising of 500 elected lay members, started in Dublin’s Citywest Conference Centre today Sunday 7th and runs to Thursday 11th June. There are also 300 visitors and guests. GMB Congress delegates are members who were elected to represent over 630,000 members from every part of the UK and Ireland and who are employed in every sector of the economy.  Congress is the supreme policy making body in the union.

Paul Maloney, GMB Southern Regional Secretary, said "These Shop Stewards are an inspiration and show that battles can be won against exploitative employers. I am proud to say they are part of our union.”

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Contact:  Paul Maloney, Southern Regional Secretary 07801 343 839 or Kamaljeet Jandu GMB Equality and Inclusion Officer on 07956 237178 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823. Photograph available from Andrew Wiard Photographer on 07973 219201 or andrew@reportphotos.com

Notes to editors

Copy of press release dated 5th June

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.”

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