Fighting low pay in retail

Submitted by Matthew on 10 October, 2012 - 11:39

The GMB union has been conducting a campaign of demonstrations outside Next stores to highlight the issue of low pay at the high-street clothing retailer.

The union is demanding a pay increase for all staff, who are currently paid at the national minimum wage of £6.19 (for workers aged 21 and over). GMB wants workers to be paid at least £7.20 an hour, the “living wage” for workers outside London.

A recent trading statement from Next showed that they expected a profit increase of between £10 and £15 million, taking profits for the year to January 2013 up to £620 million. Next makes profits of 17.5p for every £1 spent in the store, while average staff wages are less than £10,000 per year.

The GMB has recently conducted a survey into low pay in the retail sector, showing that some companies – such as Matalan, Oasis, and McColl – pay an average of less than £9,000 per worker per year.

GMB North West Regional Secretary Paul McCarthy said: “It is a scandal that Next should be paying minimum wages and that some apprentices are paid £2.60 per hour when they are making such huge profits. There is no excuse for this absolute greed.”

GMB’s campaign of demonstrations and awareness-raising surveys is positive, but it must be a complement — not an alternative — to a campaign of industrial organising within stores, warehouses and distribution centres.

Only strong, confident union organisation on shop floors will make retail bosses sufficiently scared of workers’ action to plough a greater slice of their profits into workers’ wages.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.