M&S workers seek unionisation after pay changes and job cuts

Helen Cahill
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Marks and Spencer storefront sign
Marks and Spencer recently made changes to its pay structure (Source: Getty)

The shopworker's union Usdaw has said it is willing to go through the courts to become recognised as the official union of Marks and Spencer's employees.

M&S recently announced it would be cutting premium pay for workers on Sundays and bank holidays, and reducing pension contributions. Usdaw told City A.M. it is happy to "go down the statute route" for official recognition from the company so it can represent the interests of employees.

"The phone lines here are off the wall," said Usdaw officer Mike Aylward. "The staff can't believe what M&S is doing - it's a different style of management, with more disciplinary action and people being called into meetings."

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

To gain statutory recognition, 10 per cent of M&S' employees need to become Usdaw members. Aylward said the union is not far from hitting this target, and will be visiting every store over the next month to push employees to sign up.

Yesterday, M&S confirmed it will be cutting over 500 jobs at its UK head office; its chief executive said he intended to "build a different type of M&S - one that can take bolder, pacier decisions."

Read more: M&S pay row: New offer for workers - but campaigners say it isn't enough

After consulting staff over pay changes, management agreed to increase transition payments to affected staff to help them cope with the pay changes. Basic pay will also be increased under the pay changes at M&S. One employee told City A.M. that "the outcome has had mixed reactions."

"The majority of staff are gaining and no one disagrees with this," the M&S staff member said. "But some feel that the company has let them down and not listened enough, and that long standing staff are not valued.

"They have announced redundancies in head office, to which people thought: at least I have a job."

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: "Our colleagues are independently represented by our Business Involvement Group. The group is a network of elected employee representatives from every store and business area and we recently concluded a robust consultation with them on our pay and pension proposals, the outcome of which included significantly improved financial support for our colleagues."

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