Belfast Telegraph

Petition calling on Marks & Spencer to drop pay cut plans delivered to retailer

A Marks & Spencer employee's 70,000-strong petition has been delivered to the high street giant today calling on it to scrap proposed pay cuts to offset the cost of the National Living Wage.

The woman, who set up a petition under the name Kate Simpson after a near 43-year career with the retailer, said proposals to cut extra pay for working unsociable hours targeted long-serving employees and would see 11,000 staff lose up to £6,000 a year.

She did not attend the event on Thursday, and employees were encouraged to send along friends on their behalf so as not to reveal their identities, as the petition was handed in at M&S's flagship Marble Arch store on London's Oxford Street.

Among the party were the MPs Nia Griffith, Carolyn Harris, John Spellar, Karen Buck and Siobhain McDonagh.

M&S, which employs 69,000 store staff, said in May that the introduction of the National Living Wage had prompted a review of wages, with plans to increase the base rate for qualified customer assistants to £8.50 an hour outside London and £9.65 for those in Greater London from next April.

But it also announced changes to so-called premium payments for Sundays and unsociable hours, which will see it axe extra pay for Sunday shifts and introduce a flat rate for bank holidays.

It will also introduce a standard rate for shifts between 10pm and 6am, at £3 extra an hour for customer assistants.

"Kate Simpson", who is now in her 60s and started working for M&S when she was 18, wrote on "I had a very charmed career, I got to do lots of interesting jobs and it offered privileges, but my love affair with M&S is finished now.

"When our manager made the announcement I felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face.

"Believe me, anybody who is standing on the till or working on the shop floor is feeling very despondent at the moment.

"They can't believe a company they have given their life's service to is taking a decision that will result in dramatic changes to lives and financial loss."

She said her one-off compensatory payment would amount to £410, meaning that she would have to dip into her pension pot to cover costs after the changes take effect.

A spokesman for M&S said this week that around 90% of staff would be better off under the proposals.

He said: "We believe our proposed new approach to pay and pensions would reward our people in a fair and consistent way, simplify and modernise our business and help us attract and retain the best talent so we can continue to provide great service for our customers.

"The proposals include one of the highest pay rates and one of the best benefit packages in UK retail.

"We are now consulting with our colleagues and listening carefully to their feedback."