ArrowXL workers are planning to protest outside Marks & Spencer stores across the UK on Valentine’s Day (14 February) to demand the retailer pressure ArrowXL to improve its “heartbreaking” pay offer.
However ArrowXL is insisting its pay offer is fair and that added that no ArrowXL workers are on strike.
Unite said this week that these latest demonstrations will see ArrowXL workers, dressed in Valentine’s Day regalia, target M&S’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London, as well as M&S stores in stores in Cardiff, Crawley, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle.
This is the latest development in a long running pay dispute which has seen around 350 Unite members employed by ArrowXL taking industrial action since October to protest what the union describes as “poverty wages”.
Unite claims that ArrowXL has only been prepared to offer its workers a 5% pay increase which it says is a “massive pay cut” when contrasted with the true inflation rate (RPI) which is currently at 13.4%.
The union is contrasting ArrowXL’s pay offer with the remuneration of its highest paid director, who was paid £539,000 in 2021, an 84% increase on the previous year, which Unite said reflects the company’s profitability.
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ArrowXL is a subsidiary of Logistic Group Holdings, which is owned by multi-millionaires Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay. Yodel is also part of the group.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Valentine’s Day is about love and romance. But this Valentine’s Day Arrow XL stands out as a real heartbreaker.
“The bottom line is that M&S is using delivery companies under Logistics Holdings’ umbrella, which condemns workers to live on poverty pay.
“It’s time M&S did more than talk about its company ethics and did something about its rogue supplier Logistic Holdings.”
Logistic Group companies also supply retailers Holland and Barrett, Jo Malone and Zara.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Arrow XL has been given numerous opportunities to resolve this dispute through negotiations, but it has refused to do so.
“The company needs to make a realistic offer and return to the negotiating table in order to resolve this dispute.”
A spokeswoman for ArrowXL said: "It is important to note that no colleagues are on strike from ArrowXL. We have already awarded all colleagues the increase that was offered during the negotiations that equates to an average of 8.25% (range of 5% to 35.6%) and made enhancements to sick, maternity, paternity and jury service pay as we are mindful of the cost-of-living challenges our people are facing.
"The pay award has already been backdated to 01/07/22 and follows a series of increasing awards over the last few years of 3.5% in 2021 and 2.8% in 2020.
We are extremely disappointed to be in this situation as we believe our pay offer to be fair, particularly in the light of our significantly increased operating costs and the need to keep home delivery charges reasonable for consumers.”