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Issue:- 28 March 2013


MINISTERS who says:- "Tories are best placed to tackle low pay" should speak to Tory Peer Lord Wolfson to see how he is tackling low pay at NEXT where he is offering jobs people cannot live on says GMB.

A new study by GMB, the union for retail staff, shows that 729 or nearly 80% of the 935 current job vacancies at NEXT in the UK and Ireland are for part time staff being offered 12 hours and under per week. Only 53 of the 935 total vacancies or 5.7% pay wages above the £144 per week threshold for employers to pay national insurance contributions. The majority of the jobs offer pay between £5.08 and £6.21 per hour. 55 of the jobs are for apprentices with no pay rates identified above the national minimum wage of £2.65 per hour.

The publication of this study coincides with a speech by Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Minister for Skills (BIS and DfE) on 27 March 2012, about a Conservative approach to tackling low pay. See extract in notes to editors below.

Set out in the table below are the results of the study by region in the UK and Ireland. Set out at the foot of this release on the GMB website  are 13 regional releases which details all the job vacancies in that region. See notes to editors for source of this data.

GMB has staged four demonstrations at NEXT for a living wage of £8.55 per hour in London and of £7.45 per hour in the rest of the country.

NEXT has recently reported gross profits of £1.12billion for the 12 months to Jan 2013. In the previous financial year Next made super profits of 17.5p per £ spent in the shops while average wages for staff are less than £9,571 per worker per year. In the same year

Lord Wolfson, the Tory peer who is the chief executive of NEXT in the same year received remuneration of £1.49m (£697,000 salary, £753,000 performance related bonus, £36,000 benefits). He also has 1,638,010 ordinary shares of 10p each. So far, after 17 years of pensionable service, has accrued an annual pension of £288,000, a transfer value of accrued annual pension being £3,911,000.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for the retail industry, said:- "GMB undertook this study after members employed by NEXT complained that no new contracts above 12 hours were to be issued to staff in future in their store. Members complain that their working hours have been reduced. Some had to accept hours that are incompatible with their family circumstances, such as single mothers being unable to drop their children off at school or collect them. Some have had their working hours reduced from 16 hours, making them ineligible for tax credits. Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Minister for Skills (BIS and DfE) said in a speech today "Just as in the past I've argued that the centre-right needs to act on unjustified high pay, on ending the rewards for failure we saw at the top, so we must act on unjustified low pay at the other end of the spectrum. Not only are the centre right best placed to tackle low pay, but we need to shout it from the rooftops. And we would be wrong to be coy about it -- 'Tories are best placed to tackle low pay.' Mr Hancock should have word with Tory Peer Lord Wolfson to see how he is tackling low pay at NEXT. He is offering jobs people cannot live on. 94% of the job vacancies at NEXT pay below the £144 per week threshold for employers to pay national insurance contributions. Mr Hancock will find that that NEXT is leading the race to the bottom in the retail industry. "Much of the merchandise they sell in the shops is sourced from badly paid workers in less developed parts of world. Now they are offering jobs to those selling this merchandise in the UK and Ireland with so few hours and such low pay that nobody can live on the earnings. Retailers like NEXT and Amazon are anti-union employers. Consumers need to help these retail workers by insisting that profitable retailers offer a living wage of £8.55 per hour in London and of £7.45 per hour in the rest of the country and to offer enough hours per week to enable employees to earn enough to live on."


MERSEYSIDE Police have confirmed that 31 year old Karl Bradley has been identified following the discovery of a man's body in the rear garden of a house in West Derby, on Friday, 22 March 2013. Officers are appealing to anyone who may have information to contact them. The night before (Thursday, 21 March 2013) Officers from the force had also been called to reports of shots fired at another address on Penshaw Close, West Derby. When they arrived they found that damage had been caused to the front window of a house on the street. No-one was at the address was injured during this incident. Merseyside Police launched a murder investigation after finding the body and are now trying to establish the 2 incidents are connected.

Chief Superintendent Jon Ward, said:- "Officers were called to Penshaw Close to reports of shots fired at a house on. When officers arrived they found damage to the front downstairs window of the house. Fortunately no one inside of the house was injured during this incident, but this is the home of a young family with 2 young children, and it could have been much worse. The offenders involved in this incident had a complete disregard for the occupants of the property and any members of the public who may have been in the close at the time. In the morning we received a call of concern for safety from a member of the public who had seen a man lying in the snow in the rear garden of another property on Penshaw Close. Officers attended and found the body of a man who is believed to have been shot. Given the incident last night and the close proximity to where the body was discovered this morning we believe these incidents are potentially linked and a comprehensive investigation is underway to establish the circumstances surrounding both incidents. I would urge anyone who saw anything last night, or in the early hours of this morning, which could help us with our enquiries to contact us urgently. You may not think that the information you have is significant but it could help us with our enquiries in relation to either of these incidents."

High visibility patrols are actively patrolling the area to reassure the local community.

Anyone who has any information which could help the Police to find and arrest those responsible is asked to call the Major Incident Room on:- 0800 230 0600, or the independent Crimestoppers hotline on:- 0800 555 111.

CLA will hold Defra to pledge on tackling tree disease

ON 26 March 2013, the CLA welcomed the Government's Chalara Management Plan and said it would work closely with Defra to ensure the commitment to tackling tree pests and diseases is at the top of the Environment Secretary's agenda.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said:- "We worked closely with Defra to help produce the plan for dealing with ash dieback and are delighted to see so many of our recommendations taken on board, such as the decision to trial potential chemical treatments. We are particularly pleased the Government has resisted the temptation to issue compulsory felling notices and chosen to give landowners help towards the costs of removing and replacing young infected ash trees. The CLA will work closely with Defra to ensure Environment Secretary Owen Paterson delivers his commitment to devote more resources to tackling other tree pests and diseases, such as Acute Oak Decline and Sweet Chestnut Blight."

Trees suffering ash dieback have been found widely across Europe but the disease was unknown in this country until recently. The first cases were confirmed last year on ash plants which had been imported from the Netherlands. Since then, more infected plants have been confirmed at sites throughout the North.


THE Sefton Coroner's Office is appealing for help in tracing the next of kin of Norah Coward who died last month. The 76 year old was found dead in her house in Scarisbrick Street, Southport on 1 February 2013. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Mrs Coward is believed to have had relatives across Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. Anyone who can help the coroner's office to locate the families of Mr. Coward should call:- 0151 777 3480.

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