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Merseyside Matalan warehouse could face strike action

Photo: PA

Matalan is facing the threat of strike action at its Merseyside warehouse after a pay dispute erupted between management and factory workers.

The GMB union has reacted with fury after claiming supervisors at the retailer's Knowsley facility had been given a £1,500 pay rise, in addition to a 2% increase, while warehouse staff were left struggling on low wages.

Warehouse staff work just as hard as supervisors - and should receive comparable rewards.

It really sticks in our members' throats when they're struggling to manage on their pay packets, only to see supervisors pick up a bonus and a pay rise.

It's up to our members now as to whether they will accept Matalan's latest offering.

If not, strike action could be on the cards.

– Eddie Gaudie

Following discussions with Matalan, the GMB will ballot staff at the facility over a pay offer put forward by the chain, which amounts to a 3.17% salary increase for around 700 workers.

The GMB said the pay hike would bring their wage up to just 20p above the minimum wage, adding that staff have been made to endure years of below inflation pay increases.

The result of the ballot is expected on Monday.

A spokeswoman for Matalan said:

The offer is above standard cost of living increases for the region and are also above rates of inflation.

We are surprised and disappointed by the GMB's decision to criticise this pay offer to staff.

We greatly value all our staff and have worked very hard to make an offer that is fair and appealing in relation to other comparable businesses in the region.

We therefore sincerely hope that the minority of our workforce in Knowsley who are members of the union will approve it.

– Spokeswoman for Matalan

Earlier this week, the discount retailer said it is "well positioned" to cash in on Britain's slowing economy and a Brexit squeeze on consumer spending as it posted rising sales.

In a trading update for the 13 weeks to May 27, the firm reported a 1.3% increase in revenue to £253.4 million, driven by a 21.5% increase in full price sales.

Earnings rose from £16.2 million to £22.3 million in the period, and chief executive Jason Hargreaves pointed to a climate of uncertainty and tough times for shoppers in a "challenging market".