Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has renewed its call for recognition as the trade union for Marks & Spencer staff after the company today announced 7,000 job losses across the business. The union also urges the Government to intervene to help save the high street.
Dave Gill – Usdaw National Officer says:
“This job loss announcement is yet another devastating blow for M&S staff and yet another bombshell for our high streets. The Government has a clear choice; do they want to see the high street go to the wall, or do they want to help save it?
“What the retail sector needs now is a tripartite approach of the Government, unions and employers working together to develop a much needed retail recovery plan. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the Coronavirus emergency. Now the situation is much worse.
“Usdaw has thousands of members working for Marks and Spencer and the staff now, more than ever, need the representation and support of an independent trade union; an experienced and knowledgeable union interrogating the company’s business case for these job losses.
“We again urge M&S management to abandon their long-held resistance to allowing Usdaw to represent the staff. It is simply unjust that the company has made the decision not to engage with a trade union. The staff are telling us they want Usdaw to represent them, it should be their choice.”
Usdaw called for a recovery plan to be developed with trade unions and retail employers and include:
- Fundamental reform of business rates. The Government committed to a review of business rates earlier this year, but assurance is needed that this will not be delayed further.
- An immediate and comprehensive review of rental values and lease arrangements. In the short term measures are needed to prevent commercial landlords taking legal action for rental defaults during the lockdown period. In the medium term, a rebalancing of the relationship between landlords and tenants is required.
- Reform of UK tax law to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, with the aim of creating a level playing field between online and high street retailers.
- Funding for local authorities so they can invest in their local economy, transport networks and high streets. We cannot revive our high streets if core services continue to be undermined
- Investment in skills for retail workers, including through union learning and high-quality apprenticeships. This should include an in-depth assessment of emerging trends and potential skills shortages/gaps within the sector.
- A new deal for retail, distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage and guaranteed hours.
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.