GMB slams M&S for £29m contract to “Del Boy” agency
Marks and Spencer (M&S) are in breach of their own code of Ethics with their systematic exploitation of low paid and vulnerable workers says union GMB.
GMB, which represents M&S distribution workers in Swindon, has discovered that the registered office of Tempay Ltd, the employment agency that supplies workers to the M&S Swindon depot under a £29m contract, is a two-bedroom ex-council flat in Worthing and that the company is in breach of company regulations.
GMB has lodged an official complaint to Companies House against Tempay Ltd, about a potential breach of The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015.
Potential breaches of the 2015 Regulations include the non-display of Tempay Ltd’s registered name at its registered office and non-disclosure of its registered name, number or address on business letters.
The distribution centre is owned by M&S and run on their behalf by DHL. DHL uses an employment agency, 24-7 Recruitment Services, to recruit and manage these agency staff but their contracts of employment are provided by Tempay Ltd.
Official records at Companies House show the address of Tempay Ltd’s registered office is 4 Hamilton Court, Drake Avenue, Goring-by-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex BN12 6ER.
Tempay has a turnover of £29m per annum, employ no HR department or managers but employ 2,396 staff who are supplied as agency workers.
GMB visited the address in Worthing but it was clear that this is a residential address and there is no signage to indicate that it is the registered office of Tempay Ltd. The occupant denied that it is the registered office of Tempay Ltd.
Workers employed by Tempay Ltd in Swindon are employed on the minimum wage of £6.70 per hour. Directly employed DHL workers doing exactly the same work, are paid up to £2 per hour higher than Tempay staff. Many of the Tempay staff have worked on the site for several years. Tempay staff are only guaranteed 7 hours per week but are given a rota for 37.5 hours.
Earlier this year GMB commenced legal proceedings on behalf of members employed at the M&S distribution centre in Swindon. The legal claims brought by GMB, on behalf its members, are against all four companies: DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd.
The claims relate to the Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, and which guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks. A loophole in the law, known as the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to evade these provisions for equal pay, by guaranteeing a few hours of work each week.
Carole Vallelly, GMB regional organiser, says, “M&S claim to be have an ethical supply chain, but from our dealings with Tempay Ltd, they are more like Only Fools and Horses. While Del Boy Trotter might have been a loveable rogue, Tempay is engaged in systematic exploitation of low paid and vulnerable workers.
“We believe that a deliberately confusing rats nest of relationships between these companies is used so that staff don’t even know who they work for, and in the case of Tempay’s employees, the company lacks the management and governance infrastructure to properly discharge their duties as an employer. This is clearly unethical and in breach of what looks like increasingly hypocritical claims by M&S to be an ethical business.
“Either this address is not the registered office of Tempay Ltd, and Companies House have been misinformed in breach of the legal reporting requirements, or it is the registered office of Tempay Ltd, and Tempay has failed to comply with the requirements of the Regulations to provide signage at their registered office. Furthermore, Tempay Ltd do not use the display the registered address on their business letter.
“The behaviour of Tempay Ltd makes a mockery of M&S claim, in their Global Supply Principles that require transparency and legal compliance from their suppliers.
“GMB is calling for a full investigation by Company’s House. GMB is also calling on Marks and Spencer to investigate why several hundreds of staff employed permanently in their own distribution chain are given employment contracts by a company operating out of a 2 bedroom residential flat, despite an annual turnover of £29 million."