Shop Direct workers discover job losses via text messages

SHOP Direct bosses have been criticised for their handling of the company’s decision to make nearly 2,000 workers redundant at its three Greater Manchester sites, including Shaw.


Shop Direct site in Shaw

It has been revealed some of the 1,341 staff at the Linney Lane plant only discovered their fate via text message.

The closures in Shaw, Chadderton and Little Hulton, Salford are due to take place in 2020, with part of the work transferred to the East Midlands.

An alternative site in Oldham at Broadgreen Park was rejected by Shop Direct.

Speaking in the House of Commons after securing an adjournment debate, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, Debbie Abrahams said: “This has been devastating news for the Shop Direct staff and their families.

“Although the closure won’t take place until 2020, the anticipated redundancies will have a dreadful effect on local communities, not least on Shaw.

“What was so disappointing was the failure of Shop Direct to engage with anyone.

“As Shop Direct directors revealed on the morning of the announcement, this move has been planned for over 18 months.

“During that time there has been no discussions with staff or USDAW, no discussions with Oldham Council or myself or my colleagues, and no discussion with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

“The company has been providing employment for families in Greater Manchester for many decades and these sites have different generations of the same families working there.

“The impact of closures will be huge on hundreds of families, local businesses and local communities.”

Mrs Abrahams added: “This decision should in no way be seen as a reflection of the workforce’s capability or dedication.

“The professionalism and commitment from Shop Direct’s employees has been second to none.

“After years of dedication and commitment, many workers have been left reeling by this decision.

“I have received correspondence including from one constituent who has worked for the company for 20 years.

“He said ‘I am aghast at how the work force has been treated’.

“I also understand that due to shift patterns some staff received word of the closure by text message. Imagine how that must have felt.

“This decision is especially worrying because Shop Direct is not in financial trouble.

“It reported an increase in underlying profits before tax of 10.2 per-cent to £160.4million last year.

“It has seen sales growth increasing over five consecutive years. The decisions it has made are purely commercial.”

Mrs Abrahams continued: “Oldham Council tabled alternative proposals of a site of a similar size, accompanied by a favourable business package, at Broadgreen Park, Chadderton.

“But, very disappointingly, it was rejected with no willingness from Shop Direct to engage on alternative proposals in Greater Manchester.

“My colleagues and I then pushed Shop Direct executives to describe what specific training and support they would be providing for the workforce over the next two years, including their communications strategy, given the poor communication to date, whilst also looking at particular options for the Raven Mill site as a specialist returns centre.

“Working closely with USDAW, we will be holding the company to their legal obligations to engage in a meaningful consultation.

“The union have clearly stated their test of meaningful consultation is Shop Direct fully explore any options of relocating to a nearby site, as staff through their trade union are entitled to a say in the future of the business.”

The company has said in a statement they will “be partnering with local and national organisations to provide our colleagues with tailored advice and training, including career skills, access to financial planning and vocational courses to support re-training”.

They added: “It’s also our plan to offer apprenticeships in in-demand skills across our existing operational sites.”

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