18 Days Remaining

Friday 21st
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

SHOPWORKERS’ union Usdaw called for talks with Marks and Spencer yesterday after the retailer announced plans to close six of its stores and slash 380 jobs.

The union warned that the company’s reorganisation would lead to the closure of more than 100 shops over the next five years, with yesterday’s plans just the first round.

Staff were first made aware of the reorganisation plans last November, the union said, and found out yesterday which stores would close.

Usdaw national officer David Gill said: “This is devastating news for the staff in those stores and the uncertainty continues for everyone else.

“Usdaw has thousands of members working for Marks and Spencer and the staff now need, more than ever, the representation and support of an independent trade union.

“We again urge M&S management to abandon their longheld resistance to recognising Usdaw as the union to represent its staff.

“We are providing our members with the support and representation they require throughout this difficult time.”

Marks and Spencer said it was consulting with the staff who are set to lose their jobs, and that those affected by the closures would be guaranteed redeployment to nearby stores.

The stores earmarked for closure are in Monks Cross near York, Portsmouth, Slough, Warrington, Wokingham and Worksop.

The company also announced yesterday that it would open 36 new stores — mainly food outlets — over the next six months, creating more than 1,400 jobs.

Hundreds of workers at rival retailer Debenhams also face the loss of their jobs after it announced the closure of 11 warehouses and 10 stores. The decision will affect 220 staff over the next two to five years.

An overhaul, announced by the chain’s new boss Sergio Bucher, will also see it close one of its three distribution centres, which are run by DHL.

Debenhams said it hoped to be able to redeploy many of the affected warehouse staff to its Lodge Farm distribution centre in Northamptonshire.

It also plans to move 2,000 staff into customer-facing roles.

News of the plans came as the group announced a 6.4 per cent drop in pre-tax profits in the six-month period to March.