LONDON — Workers at Topshop’s online distribution depot have announced plans to strike on Cyber Monday due to a dispute over their hourly wages.
According to GMB Union, the workers’ claim for hourly wages of 8.45 pounds, or $10.40, as set by the U.K.’s Living Wage Foundation, was rejected by the company. They are currently being paid the national minimum wage of 7.20 pounds, or $8.97 per hour.
As a result, more than half of the 200 workers at the distribution center are planning to walk out of the factory during one of the year’s most critical trading days. The depot will need to handle online sales coming through on the day, as well as additional online transactions from the Black Friday period.
The depot, which is located at Shirley, West Midlands, England, is operated by Spectrum for Arcadia, a division of the logistics company DHL. It handles online orders from Arcadia brands including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Burton.
“It’s a disgrace that Sir Philip Green, who holds the purse strings on this DHL contract, and has enriched himself on the backs of these loyal workers, is refusing to put a sensible offer on the table,” said GMB organizer, David Warwick.
The planned strike action is another blow for the embattled Green, who is coming under increasing pressure by British parliamentarians and Britain’s Pensions Regulator to fill the 350 million pounds, or $436 million, hole in the BHS pension fund. Green sold BHS for a nominal sum last year, and then watched it collapse, with the loss of thousands of jobs. He was the subject of a parliamentary grilling over the summer — during which he apologized for the affair.
Britain’s House of Commons wants him stripped of his knighthood, and earlier this week he faced calls by parliamentarians to seize his non-cash assets, including his new yacht, which is said to be worth 100 million pounds, or $125 million, to settle the pension problem.
Earlier this month, Britain’s Pensions Regulator demanded that Green pay the 350 million pounds and has formally begun enforcement action on behalf of BHS pension schemes. Green has offered to pay some of that amount and said he is continuing to work with the regulator on a solution.