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Tempay staff treated like “lumps of meat, not like human beings”, says GMB

GMB, the union for workers in Marks and Spencer distribution centres, has been given less than one week’s notice that members employed by Tempay Ltd will be transferred to 24-7 Recruitment Services.


Recruitment at the M&S distribution centre in Swindon is handled by 24-7 Recruitment, yet employees at the site are currently under contract with Tempay. At close of business on Friday 18th March, Tempay advised GMB that all employees at the site would be transferred to 24-7 Recruitment on Friday 25th March.


The distribution centre, while owned by Marks and Spencer, is run by logistics company DHL.


Carole Vallelly, GMB regional organiser, said, “The relationship between 24-7 and Tempay is so close you couldn’t get a fag paper between them. The staff are recruited and supervised by 24-7 managers, it is 24-7 who holds the contract with DHL that provides the work and all HR functions are performed by 24-7. Up until late 2015, Tempay and 24-7 even shared the same registered office address. Tempay Ltd seems to be a company that only exists on paper.

“Tempay Ltd has an annual turnover of around £29m, employs 2500 staff, but is run from a two-bedroom flat in Worthing that used to be social housing. GMB has complained to Companies House that Tempay Ltd is in breach of Companies Act by not displaying a notice at the registered office, as required by law.


“The overwhelming majority of Tempay staff are members of GMB and, as a recognised union, they are required to negotiate with us over pay. During 2015, Tempay simply failed to meet their obligation to negotiate.


“Tempay would not disclose relevant financial information about their company, as the ACAS guidelines on disclosure stipulate. The managing director of Tempay, Tony Turnbull, never once sat in the same room as me. Since we sought to involve the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS) in September 2015, he has made one excuse after another, delayed and prevaricated, so that no further pay negotiation meetings took place, and the process was never completed. There remain a lot of unanswered questions about Tempay Ltd’s financial affairs.

“Now, Tempay has simply declared that they are to cease trading, and all the staff are being transferred but the short timescales mean that again there can be no meaningful consultation. Staff are being treated like lumps of meat, not like human beings worthy of respect and dignity. Tempay Ltd admit in their own email that they did not notify us about the transfer as early as they could have done, and only notified GMB in response to an email from myself about the unrelated matter of the delayed ACAS pay talks.


“The real culprits here are M&S. The global sourcing policy which underpins their claimed ethical trading stance requires that contractors in their supply chain follow all applicable laws. Yet, despite GMB bringing the rogue activities of Tempay Ltd to the attention of M&S on several occasions over the last few years, we have seen Tempay Ltd seek to avoid their obligations to negotiate over pay with a recognised trade union and there is now a risk that Tempay may not satisfy requirements to consult over transferring staff to another employer. What is more, given the close relationship between 24-7 Recruitment Ltd and Tempay Ltd, the unethical practices are clearly known to 24-7.

“GMB is seeking urgent talks with Tempay Ltd and 24-7 Recruitment, and are demanding that there are meaningful consultations before any transfer of employees. GMB also demands that M&S investigates how unethical practices have been tolerated for so long in its supply chain."


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