The anonymous B&Q store manager behind the petition against the home retailer’s benefit cuts has called for more workers to follow suit and expose companies they feel are taking advantage of the National Living Wage.
Under the pseudonym ‘Kevin Smith’, he began a Change.org petition against B&Q after the DIY specialist began introducing cuts to employee benefits in riposte to the National Living Wage. The petition gathered over 140,000 signatures and helped portray B&Q as a prime example for the supposedly big bad corporations taking advantage of the NLW. Now, after several weeks, and even responsive action from B&Q, ‘Mr Smith’ has encouraged others to do the same.
“I know how difficult it is to stand up against the business you work for,” Smith’s update read. “The hardest part is taking the first step. But if we work together we can support each other. By naming and shaming you will give the power back to the staff and make a real difference for workers in your business.”
The NLW has been causing controversy since Chancellor George Osborne announced it last year. Raising the minimum wage for over 25s to £7.20 an hour, the initiative has raised complex questions about how retailers are expected to pay for it, with spectators and MPs calling for the government to clarify its stance on the matter.
“There are companies that have had a terrible time in the press and that’s affected what they sell if they are interested in the bottom line – because they haven’t behaved responsibly,” Osborne said on The Agenda. “Companies are no different from people in our society – we’ve got responsibilities and they should abide by them.”
Osborne also insisted that “one of the things” he is “proudest of in the years doing this job is introducing the National Living Wage. It means a £900 for a low paid person.”
“B&Q isn’t the worst offender,” Smith told Retail Gazette. “They’ve been made the poster child, but the National Living wage is flawed, and calling that is insulting. It’s a minimum wage rather than a living wage.”
Despite Osborne’s intentions Smith said that people are “suffering across many industries and businesses” due to a lack of regulation for the NLW.
“People are cutting packages and other pay in order to fund it. As George Osbourne said, we need to name and shame businesses.”