M&S and Topshop workers demand to get living wage
DOZENS of disgruntled Marks & Spencer workers in Santa hats took over the retailer’s flagship store in London yesterday to demand the living wage.
Community organisation Citizens UK supporters paraded outside the shopfronts of clothing giant Topshop and beloved British brand M&S calling for the staff to be paid the London living wage of £9.40 an hour.
But M&S management was unmoved by the Christmas plea, saying their lowest rate was above George Osborne’s planned minimum wage of £7.20 an hour.
Former M&S employee Oli Knowles stood outside the Oxford Street shop talking to customers about the campaign and delivering golden coins.
He said: “Consumers do feel passionate about the living wage and were shocked to discover the retailer they know, trust and value, don’t pay their own staff a wage that’s enough to live on.”
The 27-year-old left the company after finding his salary of £8.26 an hour impossible to live on in London.
He said that despite living with his girlfriend in a house shared with seven others, he still ate poorly and had to cycle everywhere as public transport was unaffordable.
An M&S spokeswoman told the Star she had not registered any events of note outside the flagship store, but added: “Our permanent customer assistant rate is above the new national living wage set out by the government.
“In addition, we offer a 20 per cent employee discount, a contributory pension and annual bonus scheme, as well as other lifestyle benefits.”
M&S made £661 million profit last year, while Topshop’s parent company Arcadia raked in £252m.
Cleaners at Topshop, like mother-of-three Susanna, earn a miserable £6.75 per hour.
She said: “Life on less than the living wage is a very difficult place to be. I feel trapped.
“I’m a hard worker, and it’s important that my daughters see me working, not just taking from the government.
“If businesses could pay the living wage then taxpayers would save money and I might even have a bit to spend in shops myself.”