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GMB protests for living wage at nine next stores

Friday, May 16, 2014

Public pressure needed to secure diverting £300m special payment to shareholders to longer hours for staff and living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London as it is time for NEXT to make work pay says GMB

GMB, the union for retail workers, will hold public protests, some with musician Paul Heaton, outside 9 NEXT stores in the UK during May and June to coincide with a national tour by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott. These will call for a living wage for 50,000 NEXT workers at over 500 stores, call centres and warehouses in the UK and Ireland. See dates below. 

This follows a protest at the NEXT AGM in Leicester on 15th May.GMB is supporting the national tour by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott tour during May and June. Paul headed up the Housemartins and together they headed up the Beautiful South in the 1980's and 1990's.

In March NEXT reported a 12% increase in annual profits to £695m. NEXT says it expects profits in 2014 to rise by up to £770m. NEXT said January that it is generating more cash than can be invested in the business so it will pay a special £300m pay out to shareholders.

NEXT currently pay £6.33 per hour to those 21 and over and £5.47 to those aged 18 to 20. GMB is aware of that many jobs are for12.5 hours per week or less in some stores. Some store staff may get a bonus which the company claim can amount to an additional 4% to 7% on hourly rates. Staff hourly rates will also increase by 37p from 1st June. This will leave the majority of staff well below a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London.

The protests will be held outside city centre NEXT stores as follows:·    

Wednesday 21May Newcastle on Tyne at 11am with Paul Heaton (day after show) at 57 Blackett Bridge, Eldon Square NE1 7XA.·    

Thursday 22 May Glasgow at 11am with Paul Heaton (day after show) Unit 1 Strathkelvin Retail Park, Low Moss Bishop Briggs G64 2TS.·    

Friday 23 May Salford at 11am at Unit 10, West One Way, M50 1ZD.·    Saturday 24 May Leeds at 11am at Trinity Shopping Centre, LS1 6HW.·    

Monday 26 May Bristol at 11am (day after the show) at Unit 22, Brigstow Street, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BH.·    

Thursday 29 May Sheffield at 3.30pm with Paul Heaton at 45-47 Fargate, S1 2HD.·    

Friday 30 May Birmingham at 3.30pm with Paul Heaton in Bullring, Level 3 Upper East Bullring, B5 4BA.·    

Saturday 31 May Hull at 12 noon St Stephens Shopping Centre, Margaret Moxon Way, HU2 8LN.·    

Monday 1 June Liverpool at 11 am (day after show) at 18 / 20 Church Street L1 3AP.

GMB will present an ASBO to store managers for failing to make work pay for Next workers.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for retail staff, said “GMB will present an ASBO to NEXT as an employer that does not face up to its social responsibilities. GMB is asking shareholders and consumers to support diverting the special £300m pay out to shareholders and spending it instead to offer jobs above 12.5 hours per week and to pay staff a living wage of £7.65 per hour and £8.80 per hour in London. It is time NEXT made work pay. 

There has to be a stepping up of public pressure on Tory Peer Lord Wolfson chair of NEXT to invest this £300m in better pay and longer hours for staff.  If this was done staff would not need their meagre wages to be topped up by taxpayers with family tax credits and housing benefits so as to make ends meet.

GMB will use the tour to promote the messages that "Only unions make work pay" and "British workers need a pay rise". GMB will also highlight the problems of zero hours contracts, bogus self-employment, wages levels no-one can live on and the recovery that has yet to impact on ordinary workers.

GMB welcome the continuing recovery but we have a very long way to go to climb out of the hole caused by the recession. Much of the growth so far is due to demographic factors GDP per head is still 5.7% below 2007 levels. That is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then. That NEXT is over-subscribed when it offers jobs is a reflection on the level of youth unemployment not that NEXT jobs are so good. 

That is why GMB protested outside the NEXT AGM and will do so at stores as the Paul Heaton tour swings across Britain.”

End

Contact Kamaljeet Jandu 07956 237178 or Mick Rix 07971 268343 or Martin Smith 07974 251 823 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823 or for contact at the protests 07880 316159 or 07939 975233

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