Marks and Spencer facing Valentine’s Day protests in Birmingham

Unite the union are protesting against M&S commercial relationship with Logistics Group Holdings saying its subsidiary Arrow XL is a ‘heartbreaker’
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Unite, the UK’s leading union, is holding a protest at the Marks and Spencer store in Birmingham City Centre on Valentine’s Day tomorrow (Tuesday, February 14).

The demonstrations are due to the company’s commercial relationship with Logistics Group Holdings Ltd and its subsidiaries, including Arrow XL. Protesters say Logistics subsidiary, Arrow XL, is a ‘heartbreaker’ and they are holding demonstrations at M&S stores all over the country.

They will be at the Birmingham City Centre branch from 11am to 2pm with members of Unite dressed in Valentine’s Day regalia. Around 350 members of Unite, employed by Arrow XL, are currently re-balloting for industrial action, having already taken extensive strike action previously in this dispute.

Unite say the workforce is very poorly paid, with many workers on just the minimum wage, or barely above it. The union claims that Arrow has only been prepared to offer its workers a five per cent pay increase - with the true inflation rate (RPI) currently at 13.4 per cent, this is actually a massive pay cut.

In contrast, Unite say Arrow’s highest paid director was paid £539,000 in 2021, an 84 per cent increase on the previous year, a real reflection of its high profits.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Valentine’s Day is about love and romance. But this Valentine’s Day Arrow XL stands out as a real heartbreaker.

“The bottom line is that M&S is using delivery companies under Logistics Holdings’ umbrella, which condemns workers to live on poverty pay. It’s time M&S did more than talk about its company ethics and did something about its rogue supplier Logistic Holdings.”

Marks & Spencer, High Street, Birmingham City CentreMarks & Spencer, High Street, Birmingham City Centre
Marks & Spencer, High Street, Birmingham City Centre

Logistic Group Holdings is owned by the Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who have been branded ‘the notorious anti-union brothers’. The parcel delivery firm Yodel is in the Logistics stable and in 2021 was responsible for a massive 93% of its profits.

Yodel is another high profile supplier of Marks and Spencer. As well as M&S, Logistic Group companies are suppliers to Holland and Barrett, Jo Malone and Zara.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Arrow XL has been given numerous opportunities to resolve this dispute through negotiations but it has refused to do so. The company needs to make a realistic offer and return to the negotiating table in order to resolve this dispute.”

Marks & Spencer and Arrow XL have been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Arrow XL said: “It is important to note that NO colleagues are on strike from ArrowXL. We have already awarded all colleagues the increase that was offered during the negotiations that equates to an average of 8.25% (range of 5% to 35.6%) and made enhancements to sick, maternity, paternity and jury service pay as we are mindful of the cost-of-living challenges our people are facing.

“The pay award has already been backdated to 01/07/22 and follows a series of increasing awards over the last few years of 3.5% in 2021 and 2.8% in 2020.

“We are extremely disappointed to be in this situation as we believe our pay offer to be fair, particularly in the light of our significantly increased operating costs and the need to keep home delivery charges reasonable for consumers.”

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