WORKERS have accused Marks and Spencer of turning a blind eye to unfair pay at a distribution centre in South Marston.
Now, GMB trade unionists, representing the workers at the distribution centre, are calling on the leading retailer to address the pay inequalities between workers carrying out the same work on their behalf.
The Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Stirling Road is run by Wincanton, but most of the staff are employed by recruitment agency, 24.7 Recruitment.
They are then formally employed through a further company, called Tempay Ltd.
But according to the union, workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton.
They are also asked to work six days every week until January, with only one day off in every fortnight.
GMB branch secretary for Swindon, Andy Newman, said: “It almost makes you think that M&S stands for Marley and Scrooge, the mean spirited way these workers are being treated over the Christmas period.
“Our members are going to say “Bah Humbug!” to M&S, and we have asked M&S to sort this out, or GMB will organise a series of protests outside M&S stores during Christmas shopping.”
But while the practice is legal, union members say it is unethical and runs against the Marks and Spencer ethos.
Andy said: “Despite the relationship that Marks and Spencer chooses to have with these workers, this is an M&S warehouse, where M&S products are stored and dispatched to M&S stores, to be sold to M&S customers to make profits for M&S shareholders.
“The difference between how the Wincanton and Tempay workers are being treated is a miserly attempt to push down wage costs over the Christmas period, that Scrooge would have been proud of.
“Marks and Spencer claim to have an ethical supply chain when it comes to their overseas manufacturing suppliers, we are calling for them to take the same interest in ethical business much closer to home, here in Swindon.”
GMB says that so far, more than 150 formal grievances have been submitted to Tempay Ltd about the Christmas work rotas, from among their 500 staff on the site.
One of the workers affected is John Fernandes, who said that the way they were being treated by companies was both confusing and unfair.
“Of course we’re very, very angry,” said John, who works as a loader in the distribution centre.
“We are doing the same job and we should be paid the same wage.
“We are only allowed one day off in 14 days and we are paid less than the people who are employed by Wincanton.
“We also get confused as to who actually employs us, since it’s Tempay that does the payroll but we are employed through 24.7.”
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