Union courts M&S staff as retailer's pay row rolls on

Helen Cahill
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M&S' boss has received letters from MPs about the pay changes (Source: Getty)

Shopworker's union Usdaw is urging M&S staff to join its ranks as the retailer's pay row between staff and management intensifies.

The union has been having meetings with M&S staff over the company's proposed cuts to pay and pension contributions. Usdaw have held around 11 meetings so far across the UK in places such as Liverpool, Manchester and Stockport, and have so far contacted over 1,000 staff at M&S.

Read more: M&S accused of threatening to sack staff who reject new contracts

M&S has proposed new contracts for its staff; under the changes, pension contributions would be reduced and premium pay on Sundays and bank holidays would be removed. M&S' chief Steve Rowe has come under pressure from MPs who think the company is trying to manoeuvre around National Living Wage legislation.

Mike Aylward, an Usdaw officer in the North West, said there has been a "spike in membership" at the union since M&S began to discuss pay changes with staff. Usdaw meetings with staff have been attended by 100 employees in some cases; 27 joined the union after one meeting, Aylward said.

Read more: Pay row at M&S heats up as staff and management thrash out proposals

The union plans to hand out leaflets to M&S staff outside stores in the last few weeks of August and at the beginning of September.

Aylward said many employees were "too frightened to take action" in the talks with M&S' management over the pay changes - but that if enough staff members join Usdaw, the union will try to meet with management to become officially recognised.

The employees at M&S are currently represented by the National Business Involvement Group (National BIG) in pay discussions, but Usdaw argue that National BIG are "not effective" and are "being used as a vehicle" by M&S' management to bring in pay changes.

A spokesperson for M&S said: "The proposals include one of highest pay rates and one of the best benefits packages in UK retail. The consultation is ongoing and we are listening carefully to our colleagues and their representatives."

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