GMB union warns of retailer bullying during Olympics

As the clamour surrounding London 2012 continues to intensify, another union is flexing its muscles. And this time it's retail.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
The GMB union has expressed concerns that employers will engage in bullying behaviour towards their staff over working hours during the Olympic Games. Discussions with government have begun in earnest to ensure that a ‘work or be fired’ policy is not introduced. But MT can’t help but feel it’s a little premature.
The fears have arisen as a result of the government’s decision to suspend Sunday trading laws for eight weeks to allow retailers to cash in on the influx of tourists during the Games. The GMB thinks more than a million retail workers in the UK will be affected by the longer opening hours.
The union is insisting on an ‘Olympic premium’ pay deal for those required to work longer hours, especially in London, as well as compensation for the extra time it will take staff to travel to and from work. It seems fair enough that workers should be able to earn more for the extra hours and some of the hassle. Still, there’s no evidence that retailers are planning to wriggle out of paying a bit extra.  
A deal with unions meaning tube drivers will be offered a bonus not to strike during the Games has caused anger in other industries which have not secured similar conditions. Not to mention consternation in the general public. Now the GMB is trying the same trick.
The government has extended the olive branch to the GMB union: business minister Mark Prisk invited the union to talk on the subject, but GMB branded the invitation ‘a sham consultation’. The clock is ticking and the games will soon be upon us. Obviously, GMB is not scared of turning the issue into a bit of a scrap.

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