Unite the Union

Unite the Union

February 26, 2008 05:27 ET

Unite Launches Demonstrations Across the UK to Demand That M&S Practices What It Preaches

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 26, 2008) -

Attention: news, industrial and retail correspondents

Regional Photocall (see notes to editors)

Embargoed until 00.01 27th February 2008

Unite, Britain's biggest private sector union will today (27th February) launch a wave of demonstrations outside Marks and Spencers outlets across the UK.

The union will reach out to M&S customers right across the country, to highlight the widespread discrimination in the treatment of workers in M&S' supply chain.

Unite the union will demonstrate outside the following outlets (see notes to editors) with placards and will leaflet M&S customers. Today is the first wave of national demonstrations which will last through to the end of March 2008.

Whilst M&S claims to be one of the leading ethical supermarkets, Unite has evidence that there is widespread discrimination in the treatment of workers in the meat supply chain. A permanent two tier workforce amongst many suppliers has been created, starting conflict between migrant and indigenous workers and helping to cause community disharmony.

Unite will also highlight M&S' use of imported meat from Thailand and Brazil. This increase of cheap meat is helping to drive down conditions for low paid workers in the UK who are employed in the meat supply chain.

The union will also highlight the labelling of some M&S meat products. Unite is calling on M&S to clearly label all meat products, in the interests of consumers. M&S prominently labels British meat on the front but when it is from Brazil or Thailand it is a small label on the side or back. None however tell you when the animal was slaughtered, or what processes it has been through before arriving at the store, such as freezing.

Unite, Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley says,

"Today Unite is launching a national campaign of demonstrations outside Marks and Spencers outlets across the UK, to demand that Marks & Spencers operates an ethical supply chain.

M&S, and the other retailers, must face up to their responsibilities and start putting workers, communities and consumers first. They dictate the price of the contracts, and they cannot wash their hands of responsibility.

Marks and Spencers' drive to keep costs down within its supply chain has created a permanent two-tier workforce where mainly migrant agency workers are on even lower conditions than directly employed workers.

M&S must show respect for workers in its supply chain and insist that the meat supply industry ends exploitation and discrimination.

This is a clear message to this world famous retailer that its time M&S "practices what it preaches."

Notes to editors

The demonstrations will take place at the following locations across the UK between 11.00am and 1.00pm on 27th February 2008.

The media will be able to meet and interview workers from M&S' supply chain outside M&S in Eastbourne, Langley Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex.

London 46 High Road, London, London, N22 6BX
Eastbourne Langley Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex
Bristol 78 Broadmead, Bristol, Avon, BS1 3DS
Belfast 48 Donegall Place, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT1 5BY
Cardiff 72 Queen Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10 2XG
Birmingham 42 High Street Birmingham, West Midlands
Manchester 7 Market Street, Manchester M1 1WT
Glasgow 172 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Strathclyde, G2 3EA
Leeds 47 Briggate, Leeds LS1 6HF

Contact Information

  • Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315