Value fashion retailers Primark has agreed to hold talks with unionised employees at its stores in Northern Ireland who have threatened to strike over a proposed pay freeze.
Representatives for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) from eight of the retailer’s stores in the country were informed yesterday that Primark was willing to take part in sit-down discussions with the disgruntled workers at the Labour Relations Agency this Friday (February 10th 2012).
The 641 effected employees have previously voted to embark on industrial action over the company’s decision to freeze pay at £6.84 an hour for the second year running, despite what the workers claim has been a considerable rise in the cost of living during the last 12 months thanks to inflation and government cuts.
In its most recent trading update Primark reported a like-for-like sale rise of 16 per cent for the 16 week period ending January 7th 2012, and in the financial year ending September 2011 the retailer’s profits totalled more than £300 million.
Nicola Scarborough, Usdaw Area Organiser, commented: “Usdaw welcomes the company’s decision to get back round the negotiating table and we hope that this week’s talks will lead to a resolution of the dispute.”
“Industrial action is obviously a last resort and one our members would prefer not to have to take, but they do want Primark to treat them fairly and recognise the contribution they are making to the company’s success.”
Usdaw also announced today that it will re-ballot its members regarding the threatened industrial action, having been informed that a technical oversight in the original vote could have left it open to legal challenge.
Last month 93 per cent of those balloted voted in favour of striking, but a new ballot will now be carried out between the 15th and 19th of February.
Scarborough added: “The oversight in the first ballot is very regrettable but the new ballot will ensure the union and its members are legally protected should any industrial action prove necessary.”