Fact Service August 2020

Issue 33

M&S job cull shows need for high street action

The announcement that 7,000 jobs are to be lost at Marks & Spencer – shortly after 2,500 were axed at retailer Debenhams – has led shopworkers’ union Usdaw to call for government intervention to save high streets.

Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer said: “This job loss announcement is yet another devastating blow for M&S staff and yet another bombshell for our high streets. The government has a clear choice: do they want to see the high street go to the wall, or do they want to help save it?”

Usdaw is proposing a retail recovery plan to be developed with unions and employers, that includes:

• fundamental reform of business rates;

• a review of rental values and lease arrangements. In the short term, the union says, measures are needed to prevent landlords taking legal action for rental defaults during lockdown;

• reform of UK tax law to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, with the aim of creating a level playing field between online and high street retailers;

• funding for local authorities so they can invest in their local economy, transport networks and high streets;

• investment in skills for retail workers, including through union learning and high-quality apprenticeships; and

• a new deal for retail, distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage and guaranteed hours.