M&S boss Steve Rowe declines to meet MPs to discuss pay cuts for his staff

Helen Cahill
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Marks and Spencer boss Steve Rowe will not meet MPs
Steve Rowe has been tasked with pushing through pay changes at M&S (Source: Marks and Spencer)

M&S boss Steve Rowe has rejected an invitation to meet MPs to discuss the pay changes he is making for his staff and he has refused to accept their suggestion that he should commit to a three-year pay freeze.

Some 70 MPs wrote to Rowe last week to complain about the pay changes he is making for employees, which will involve cutting premium pay on Sundays and bank holidays, as well as lowering pension contributions.

They asked to meet with Rowe, but in a response seen by City A.M., he said they should talk with Sacha Berendji, M&S' head of retail, and Deborah Warman, head of HR, instead.

M&S staff will be receiving an increase in basic pay, and after a consultation with staff, the business agreed to increase the amount of money it is offering as a one-off payment to those affected.

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

However, MPs writing to Rowe said the affected staff will have to work for longer hours in 2019 for the same pay they received this year. The group asked the M&S chief: "Mr Rowe, will you also guarantee that you will earn no more in three years' time than you do today?"

Rowe did not agree to freeze his salary for three years in his response letter. He pointed to the company's most recent annual report, in which executive directors turned down a pay rise "in recognition and support of the proposed new pay arrangements being made elsewhere in the UK organisation".

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

M&S' executive directors also "indicated an intention" to turn down pay increases next July, but have not said whether they would do the same in future.

Documents seen exclusively by City A.M. show how one employee is facing a 20-year pay freeze under the company's changes.

"I cannot help but wonder how Lidl and Aldi manage to make a profit and still pay an hourly rate now higher than the £8.50 that Marks is using as an excuse to erode all the premiums," the employee said.


14.7 per cent increase to basic pay for customer assistants, section co-ordinators and section managers from April 2017

Premium payments 
Premiums will be "simplified", with no Sunday premium and one bank holiday rate

Salaries of those who will find themselves worse off as a result of the changes will be topped up for two years

Members of the defined benefits scheme will be enrolled into the defined contribution savings plan from April, with a cash supplement for three years