WH Smith targeting staff, claims union

WHSmith is cutting workers’ pay only two years after removing their final salary pension scheme, says the Unite union.

The union said last week’s announcement that 100 or more workers will be asked to re-apply for more lower paying jobs was a “disgraceful” targeting of the company’s worst paid workers.

Martin Hodges, from the Unite union, which represents most staff at WHSmith’s Greenbridge headquarters distribution centre, said: “The average worker makes about £18,000 a year.

The company wants to cut that to about £12,000 without really changing their roles.

This is a company that made £84 million profit last year. WHSmith has been doing a lot better because Woolworths is no more and it is not because there is less work, otherwise they would be cutting roles, as it is now there are between 100 and 200 temporary agency workers in the distribution centre at one time.

Simply put, the timing is right for the company to ask workers to re-apply for jobs because they know the risk is that they won’t find any other work.”

A WHSmith spokeswoman said: “We regularly review all parts of our business to ensure that the operational structure best meets the demands of the business.

Whilst we have reviewed structures and operations at other distribution centres (DCs), we haven’t reviewed our Swindon DC for nearly 10 years. These changes are intended to help safeguard the future of the Swindon DC.

As part of the proposed changes, we will be creating a number of new roles within our distribution centre reflecting the different skills now required to meet business needs. As the skills required are different, it is not appropriate to make direct comparisons in terms of pay between the new structure and the previous one.

We are committed to providing a competitive remuneration and benefits package for our staff. As a retailer we will always have peak trading periods, and will continue to use temporary workers as appropriate at these peak times.

We hope that Unite and its members will understand the need for the changes.

We are committed to undertaking consultation in a spirit of cooperation, and it is our strong desire to reach an agreement.”

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