Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights Senator David Cullinane today called on Marks & Spencer to engage in meaningful negotiations with unions at the company with the aim of bringing about an end to the dispute.
Senator Cullinane said:
“Its three weeks before Christmas and one of the country’s most popular department stores is closed today because the company will not engage with workers and their union.
“The strike at Marks & Spencer is a no win situation for workers, for the company, and for the general public.
“This is a company with a reputation for quality not only in their products but also in terms of their record as an employer. The general perception is that M&S is a good employer that respects its workers and provides them with decent terms and conditions.
“The Company’s decision to close the workers’ defined benefit pension scheme which it argues is discretionary, flies in the face of this.
“According to Mandate, the union that represents the workers, the scheme is not discretionary. More importantly, Mandate also point out that not only is the pension scheme performing, but that it actually has a surplus of €17 million.
“Mandate has made it very clear that they are open to discussions with the company with the aim of finding a resolution.
“It is imperative that the company sit down with the union and that they immediately suspend the implementation of various cost cutting initiatives such as a reduction in Sunday and Public Holiday premiums, and that they restore the Christmas bonus as sign of good faith.
“It is not acceptable for companies to act unilaterally and to impose changes to work practices and to workers pay and conditions without having engaged in meaningful negotiations with unions.
“If Marks & Spencer’s is to maintain its reputation as a good employer then it needs to do the right thing. This means it must immediately defer the implementation of all cost cutting measures and go back to the negotiating table. ”