GMB Slams Marks And Spencer 23 Mar 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Staff are being treated like lumps of meat, not like human beings worthy of respect and dignity says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in Marks and Spencer distribution centres, has been given less than one week’s notice that members employed by employment agency Tempay Ltd will be transferred to another employer, 24-7 Recruitment Services.

Recruitment at the M&S distribution centre in Swindon is handled by 24-7 Recruitment, yet employees at the site are currently under contract with Tempay. At close of business on Friday 18th March, Tempay advised GMB that all employees at the site would be transferred to 24-7 Recruitment on Friday 25th March.

The distribution centre, while owned by Marks and Spencer, is run by logistics company DHL.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said “The relationship between 24-7 and Tempay is so close you couldn’t get a fag paper between them. The staff are recruited and supervised by 24-7 managers, it is 24-7 who holds the contract with DHL that provides the work and all HR functions are performed by 24-7. Up until late 2015, Tempay and 24-7 even shared the same registered office address. Tempay Ltd seems to be a company that only exists on paper.

Tempay Ltd has an annual turnover of around £29 million, employs 2500 staff, but is run from a 2 bedroom flat in Worthing that used to be social housing. GMB has complained to Companies House that Tempay Ltd is in breach of Companies Act by not displaying a notice at the registered office, as required by law.

The overwhelming majority of Tempay staff are members of GMB and, as a recognised union, they are required to negotiate with us over pay. During 2015, Tempay simply failed to meet their obligation to negotiate.

Tempay would not disclose relevant financial information about their company, as the ACAS guidelines on disclosure stipulate. The Managing Director of Tempay, Tony Turnbull, never once sat in the same room as me. Since we sought to involve the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS) in September 2015, he has made one excuse after another, delayed and prevaricated, so that no further pay negotiation meetings took place, and the process was never completed. There remain a lot of unanswered questions about Tempay Ltd’s financial affairs.

Now, Tempay has simply declared that they are to cease trading, and all the staff are being transferred but the short timescales mean that again there can be no meaningful consultation. Staff are being treated like lumps of meat, not like human beings worthy of respect and dignity. Tempay Ltd admit in their own email that they did not notify us about the transfer as early as they could have done, and only notified GMB in response to an email from myself about the unrelated matter of the delayed ACAS pay talks.

The real culprits here are M&S. The global sourcing policy which underpins their claimed ethical trading stance requires that contractors in their supply chain follow all applicable laws. Yet, despite GMB bringing the rogue activities of Tempay Ltd to the attention of M&S on several occasions over the last few years, we have seen Tempay Ltd seek to avoid their obligations to negotiate over pay with a recognised trade union and there is now a risk that Tempay may not satisfy requirements to consult over transferring staff to another employer. What is more, given the close relationship between 24-7 Recruitment Ltd and Tempay Ltd, the unethical practices are clearly known to 24-7.

GMB is seeking urgent talks with Tempay Ltd and 24-7 Recruitment, and are demanding that there are meaningful consultations before any transfer of employees. GMB also demands that M&S investigates how unethical practices have been tolerated for so long in its supply chain.”

End

Contact: Carole Vallelly on 07912 181476 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 07739 182691

Notes to editors

Copies of previous GMB press releases

1 Copy of GMB press release dated Wednesday, October 7, 2015

GMB Protest On Friday 9th October At Marks And Spencer Swindon Store Over Two Tier Workforce And Work Practices At M&S Swindon Depot

Mothers on the bus on their way into work at M&S depot, having left their children with child-minders, get text messages saying they are not needed that day says GMB.

GMB, the union for Marks and Spencer (M&S) distribution workers in Swindon, is to hold a protest demonstration outside Marks and Spencer store in Swindon to protest at two tier workforce and work practices at the depot. This is the second in a series of protest outside M&S stores across the country in support of the M&S Swindon depot workers.

The details of the protest are as follows:

At 12.00 noon Friday 9th October,
outside M&S store,
81 Regent Street,
Swindon,
Wiltshire, SN1 1JY.

There will be members with flags and banners.

Marks and Spencer own this Distribution Centre. They contract the running of the site to logistics company, DHL. They in turn recruit several hundred workers through the recruitment agency, 24-7 Recruitment Services. These workers have an employment contract through yet another company, Tempay Ltd. DHL took over the contract to run the site in January 2015, which was previously run by another logistics company, Wincanton.

Workers employed by Tempay Ltd are employed on the minimum wage of £6.70 per hour. Directly employed DHL workers doing exactly the same work, are paid up to £2 per hour higher than Tempay staff. Many of the Tempay staff have worked on the site for several years. Tempay staff are only guaranteed 7 hours per week but are given a rota for 37.5 hours.

Earlier this year GMB commenced legal proceedings on behalf of members employed at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon. The legal claims brought by GMB, on behalf its members, are against all four companies: DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd.

The claims relate to the Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, and which guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks. A loophole in the law, known as the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to evade these provisions for equal pay, by guaranteeing a few hours of work each week.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said "This GMB protest is against the company getting round the law on equal pay for agency staff by the use of the Swedish Derogation.

The South Marston site is operated wholly for Marks and Spencer. It is clear that the treatment of these workers is in breach of both M&S' Code of Ethics and Behaviour and also in breach of M&S' Global Sourcing Principles. The Global Sourcing Principles require each of M&S' suppliers, whether of goods or services, to comply with all relevant laws and regulations relating to terms of employment. See notes to editors for links to M&S global sourcing policies and M&S Code of Ethics.

GMB is pressing M&S to investigate the working practices at the South Marsden site.

There are mothers on the bus on their way into work having left their children with child-minders who get text messages saying they are not needed that day. Although the employer cancels work days for our members with no notice, our members are being disciplined for being unavailable for work through sickness just three times in six months.

In normal jobs, the employer guarantees work, and pays people for doing it. In this M&S distribution centre people have to be available for work every day, but are not then offered that work or paid. This is like modern day slavery. What makes it worse is that the disciplinary proceedings do not refer to any policy in the employees handbook, and it seems that 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd just make the rules up as they go along.

As a matter of principle GMB believes that all staff at South Marston site who are doing the same work should receive equal pay whoever they work for. We want an end to the two tier workforce.

GMB also demands that M&S investigates how staff can be disciplined for not being available for work, when the employer does not themselves respect the obligation to provide work for those employees."

End

2 Copy of GMB press release dated Monday, July 6, 2015

GMB Call On Marks And Spencer To Act To End Three Tier Pay Structure For Workers At The Swindon Distribution Depot

The three groups are doing the same job working by side yet bottom tier is paid £2.07 per hour less and middle tier £1.80 per hour less than top tier says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff in the Marks and Spencer (M&S) supply chain, is calling on the company to end the three tier pay structure for employees working for contractors at the Swindon Distribution Centre.

The Swindon distribution centre, owned by M&S, is used to supply their stores. M&S contract the running of the facility to DHL. DHL in turn contract recruitment agency, 24-7, to provide agency workers who are given employment contracts in the name of Tempay Ltd. Tempay shares the same registered business address as 24-7.

DHL has recently offered direct employment to 180 workers who were employed by Tempay at the Swindon depot. They have employed them on Tier 2 full time contracts earning £6.77 per hour. This compares with DHL Tier 1 employees who earn £8.57 per hour. Tempay employees in the depot earn £6.50 per hour on a limited hours contract.

GMB is taking legal claims on behalf of members at Tempay against DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd over evasion of the terms of the Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, and which guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks. See notes to editors for copy of the GMB press release.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said “GMB call on Marc Bolland the M&S Chief Executive to intervene to end the three tier contracts that apply to contractors working at the Swindon depot.

The Tier 2 employees are overwhelmingly black, whilst the employees on Tier 1 are overwhelmingly white. These Tier 2 employees shockingly earn £1.80 per hour less than the Tier 1 workers. The Tempay workers earn £2.07 per hour less than the Tier 1 workers.

The three groups of workers are doing exactly the same work and work side by side. In addition the Tier 1 and 2 workers have exactly the same job titles and job descriptions, and have exactly the same employer.

GMB has brought this to the attention of both Marks and Spencer and DHL who refuses to resolve the inequality.

It is an absolute disgrace that a company like DHL, while working for Marks and Spencer, believe it acceptable that there can be such discrimination in their workforce and can refuse to engage with the GMB who represent the Tier 2 and Tempay workers on the site.

GMB believes in equal pay for all people doing the same job, and we will fight discrimination wherever we see it. We call on DHL negotiate with the GMB to stop this three tier pay and pay all people equal pay for equal work.

We want to see changes for workers for Tempay Ltd who have 7 hour per week contracts, but are given rotas for 37 hours. If they are not available for every day of rota they are disciplined for absenteeism, but the employer can cancel work days with no notice, and send workers home at any time, sometime as soon as they arrive for work.

Using ‘permanent’ contracts for the nominal 7 hours a week allows employers to evade the provisions of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which came into force in 2011, that are designed to guarantee equal pay after 12 weeks employment. This abuse is popularly called the “Swedish Derogation”.

Many of the Tempay staff at M&S Swindon have worked at the site for several years. Over 75% of non-managerial staff are agency workers. GMB has commenced legal action as such long permanent assignments are contrary to the intention of the Swedish derogation and GMB believes indicate a regulation avoidance tactic.

Marc Bolland has just received a huge pay and bonus package, earned at least in part from the exploitation of the workers in the Swindon distribution centre. He has a duty to ensure that suppliers stick to the ethical standards demanded by M&S’s Global Sourcing Policy."

End

3 Copy of GMB press release dated 28th May 2015

GMB CLAIMS FOR 240 MEMBERS AT M&S SWINDON DEPOT ON NON COMPLIANCE WITH AGENCY WORKERS DIRECTIVE FOR EQUAL PAY WITH DIRECT STAFF

Rogue employers should not be allowed to abuse their staff, and we are determined to support our members' rights by pursuing these cases through the courts says GMB

GMB, the union for workers in the Marks and Spencer (M&S) distribution supply chain, has commenced legal proceedings on behalf of 240 members employed at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in South Marston, Swindon.

Marks and Spencer own this Distribution Centre. They contract the running of the site to logistics company, DHL. They in turn recruit several hundred workers through the recruitment agency, 24-7 Recruitment Services. These workers have an employment contract through yet another company, Tempay Ltd.

DHL took over the contract to run the site in January 2015, which was previously run by another logistics company, Wincanton.

Workers employed by Tempay Ltd are employed on the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. Directly employed DHL workers doing exactly the same work, are paid up to £2 per hour higher than Tempay staff. Many of the Tempay staff have worked on the site for several years

The legal claims brought by GMB, on behalf its members, are against all four companies: DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd.

The claims relate to the Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, and which guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks. A loophole in the law, known as the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to evade these provisions for equal pay, by guaranteeing a few hours of work each week.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said "GMB has always argued that getting round the law relating to equal pay by the use of the Swedish Derogation is unethical.

On examination of the specific contracts of employment of our members used on this M&S site, we believe that the terms of these contracts seeking to avoid equal pay are unenforceable, and the attempt by the employers to evade their responsibilities to their staff is not only unethical but also unlawful.

Our members argue that over a period of years, the employers on this site have played fast and loose with the law, not only failing to follow the Agency Workers Regulations, but also failing to follow TUPE regulations that protect workers when they are transferred between businesses. GMB will not allow rogue employers to abuse their staff, and we are determined to support our members' rights by pursuing these cases through the courts.

The South Marston site is operated wholly for the benefit of Marks and Spencer. It is clear that the treatment of these workers is in breach of both M&S' Code of Ethics and Behaviour and also in breach of M&S' Global Sourcing Principles. The Global Sourcing Principles require each of M&S' suppliers, whether of goods or services, to comply with all relevant laws and regulations relating to terms of employment. See notes to editors for links to M&S global and M&S Code of Ethics.

The use of so-called Swedish Derogation contracts is also seemingly in breach of the Global Sourcing Principles which states that temporary labour arrangements must not be used to avoid obligations to workers under labour laws and regulations

M&S must question whether they have an ethical supply chain, when within their own UK distribution chain, unethical and unlawful employment practices are used. Particularly as M&S's own policies demonstrate that they exercise oversight of the practices used in their supply chain. GMB has previously raised with M&S the practices at this site, in order to give them the opportunity to resolve them, but these malpractices continue.

The GMB call on M&S to investigate the working practices at the South Marsden site. As a matter of principle GMB believes that all staff at South Marston site, who are doing the same work, should receive equal pay, whoever they work for."

End

4 GMB press release dated Monday, February 9, 2015

Members At Marks & Spencer Distribution Centre Swindon Vote By 97% To Be Represented By GMB

It is a scandal that a company like Marks and Spencer, who boast about their ethical credentials, are exploiting workers in conditions akin to modern day slavery says GMB.

GMB members working at Marks & Spencer (M&S) distribution centre in Swindon have voted to be represented by GMB for collective bargaining.

The Ballot result, from a 76% turnout was a 97% YES, in favour of GMB recognition celebrates the breakthrough of gaining trade union recognition with a so-called Umbrella company.

The trade union recognition ballot was conducted under the auspicious of the regulatory body the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC): https://www.gov.uk/trade-union-recognition-how-to-apply-to-the-cac

GMB’s next step will be to submit the seven point claim and seek a pay rise that ensures each worker takes home all the money they earn. See Notes to Editors for the 7 point claim.

The Swindon distribution centre is owned and use by M&S. M&S contract DHL to run the distribution centre. DHL use recruitment agency, 24-7, to provide agency workers who are given employment contracts in the name of Tempay Ltd.. Tempay shares the same registered business address as 24-7.

Workers for Tempay Ltd have 7 hour per week contracts, but are given rotas for 37 hours. If they are not available for every day of rota they are disciplined for absenteeism, but the employer can cancel work days with no notice, and send workers home at any time, sometime as soon as they arrive for work.

Using ‘permanent’ contracts for the nominal 7 hours a week allows employers to evade the provisions of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which came into force in 2011, that are designed to guarantee equal pay after 12 weeks employment. This abuse is popularly called the “Swedish Derogation”.

Many of the Tempay staff at M&S Swindon have worked at the site for several years. Over 75% of non-managerial staff are agency workers. Such long permanent assignments are contrary to the intention of the Swedish derogation and GMB believes indicate an regulation avoidance tactic.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Organiser, said, “GMB’s next step will be to prepare and submit a pay claim for GMB members, and secure for them a wage that allows them to live with dignity. It is a scandal that a company like Marks and Spencer, who boast about their ethical credentials, are exploiting workers in conditions akin to modern day slavery.”

Even 24-7 senior managers cannot explain the commercial relationship with Tempay. Staff don’t even have the dignity of knowing who they work for.

The actual employer, Tempay Ltd, although it employs 2,500 people has only two administrative staff for payroll, it has no managers, no HR department, and no internal structure for governance. It is a paper company that seemingly only exists for legal avoidance. Employment through these so-called Umbrella companies has spread like wildfire though distribution and construction sectors.

Low pay and precarious employment means workers on these contracts feel like second class citizens, unable to get a mortgage or be granted hire purchase or loans, and unable to even feel secure that they can pay the rent or feed their families.

Many prestigious High Street companies, including Marks and Spencer, use employment agencies in their supply chain to push wage costs down and inhibit staff from asserting employment rights. The culture of abusing agency worker status has led to employers treating their staff as commodities, breaking the moral contract that hard work should be rewarded.

End

Contact: Carole Vallelly, GMB Organiser on 07912 181476 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823.