Belfast Telegraph

MPs urge M&S boss to guarantee no pay rise for himself in row over staff pay

A group of 70 MPs have urged Marks and Spencer boss Steve Rowe to guarantee that he will not get a pay rise before 2020 amid a row over new staff pay proposals.

The Labour MPs, who include leadership candidate Owen Smith and former deputy leader Harriet Harman, told Mr Rowe that long-serving M&S staff were being "betrayed" by plans to cut pay to offset the cost of the National Living Wage.

The changes, which include a cut in premium pay for Sundays, prompted nearly 100,000 people to sign a petition calling on the chain to scrap the plans.

In response, M&S last week announced that staff would receive a 14.7% pay rise under an improved offer.

Customer assistants are expected to receive £8.50 an hour - £9.65 in London - from next April, well above the living wage of £7.20 and the voluntary rate of £8.25, and £9.40 in the capital.

However, premium payments for Sunday working will stop, and there will be one standard payment for bank holidays.

This will leave thousands of long-serving staff who began working for the high-street giant prior to 2004 up to £2,000 worse off a year, according to Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.

Ms McDonagh, who is leading a campaign against the changes, said 11,000 staff would also be hit by the cut in pension contributions.

The MPs wrote: " While we are obviously glad to hear that M&S had amended their transitional payments in light of our campaign, it still falls short of the offer that your longstanding and loyal staff really deserve.

"What the company is telling them is that even if they work longer hours to make up the difference, they will earn no more money in three years' time than they do today - which is absolutely not fair."

They went on: "Furthermore, whilst M&S has claimed that no employee will be worse off as a result of these changes, in reality they absolutely will.

"That is because affected staff will have to work longer hours come 2019 to make the same wage they get today, while the remuneration package pays no attention to the financial losses staff will face as a result of the pensions changes.

"You surely cannot think that the gas bills, electricity bills and rent, and travel fares of your employees will be the same in 2019/2020 as they are today? Inflation means that these employees will be relatively significantly worse off.

"Mr Rowe, will you also guarantee that you will earn no more in three years' time than you do today?

"We agree that the proposals that the company announced today were an improvement on the original transitional package. However, it would be a betrayal to loyal staff, many with more than two or three decades of professional experience, to say that this is a very good offer for them.

"We are very concerned for the well-being of our constituents, the very employees that make your business possible, and we would be grateful for a meeting with you, as soon as conveniently possible, to discuss these important issues."

The MPs also include high-profile Labour figures such as Alan Johnson, Dan Jarvis, Jess Phillips and Chris Bryant.

A spokeswoman for M&S said they could not comment as Mr Rowe had not yet received the letter.