Union targets Marks and Spencer outlets, demanding Living Wage of £10 per hour

SEIUGMB members are today holding demonstrations at nine locations across England in solidarity with members of a US fast food union today taking strike action for a living wage of $15 per hour.

The GMB is fighting for a living wage of £10 in the UK and is protesting outside fast food outlets and Marks and Spencer stores in protest at two-tier workforces and work practices.

Demonstrations are taking place in Brixton, Manchester, Bolton, Leeds, Sheffield, White City and Birmingham.

GMB national officer Kamaljeet Jandu said: “GMB is calling on big brand owners like M&S, Starbucks, Burger King, Caffè Ritazza, Upper Crust, Whistlestop, Millie’s Cookies and other big brands to pay a living wage of £10 per hour, end zero hours contracts and confront bullying managers to bring security to the mainly young workers at outlets in the UK’s railway stations, airports and large shopping centres.

“GMB sister union in the USA the Service Employees International Union is holding a day of action on 10th November to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour for New York City’s fast food workers. SEIU and GMB fast food members stand in solidarity with each other.

“Shadowy franchise companies, such as Select Service Partners and Kout  Food Group (KFG Quickserve) who often run their outlets at airports, railway stations and retail parks, have to be exposed.  M&S are one of the big brands who pay SSP to operate their outlets in their names in the hope of avoiding the public outrage of the low pay and poor employment terms and conditions.

“The big brands pay Select Service Partner UK Ltd (SSP) to operate the outlets in their names in the hope of avoiding the public outrage of the low pay and poor employment terms and conditions SSP provide for the mainly young 9,300 staff in the 2,000 fast food outlets.

“The protests are to expose that SSP staff are paid close to the National Minimum Wage, are mostly on zero hours contracts and can be moved to work in any of the franchises on a day to day basis.

“GMB has received complaints of insecure work, bullying, low pay and pressure to grovel to supervisors in order to get enough hours of work to make ends meet. Many keep their heads above water through in work tax credit and other benefits while SSP makes a profit of £17 million after tax.

“Fast food workers are among the most severely exploited of the UK workforce. They belong to the 2.6 million workers the Resolution Foundation estimates are stuck on wages just above the minimum – who are so valued by their employers they are paid as little as they can get away with.

“On average they are paid no more than £7.20 an hour on zero hours or tiny hours contracts. They have a working life constantly grovelling for another shift and constantly worrying about the tax credits they need to make ends meet. They are the strivers fearful to see how much their in work benefits will be cut next year. Fast food workers want their jobs to pay their bills. They know they cannot live on any of the ‘living wages’ they hear politicians talk about without claiming benefits.

“GMB consider that it is time for fast food employers to make work pay.  A survey of GMB members carried out in 2015 found that they needed a minimum wage of £10 an hour with a full working week to live free of benefits. They know that fast food employers have used tax credits to keep their wages low for years taking millions of pounds in wage subsidies from taxpayers that they should now pay back to staff.

“GMB members in the fast food industry want £10 per hour, contracts of employment with the hours of work people want and need, the right to seek help and support from trade unions and protection from bullying and abuse by managers and customers alike.

“GMB is pressing M&S to investigate the working practices at the Swindon depot site. At Swindon mothers on the bus on their way into work having left their children with child-minders get text messages saying they are not needed that day.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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