According to yesterday’s Leicester Mercury, the Enderby-based fashion retailer Next “continues to lead the British high street, with pre-tax profits of £782 million last year – 12 .5 per cent up on 2013.” Company chairman John Barton was reported as acknowledging how:
“The continued success of Next is built on the hard work and dedication of our management team and all the people who work for Next.”
Yet Next’s workers are unlikely to see much of a share of the immense profits generated by their hard work, as Barton continued: “Our strategy will remain the same, focussed on our products, our profitability and returning cash to our shareholders.”
Their strategy is clear: enrich their shareholders at the expense of the hard work of their employees. Next talk about creating hundreds of new jobs, but what sort of jobs will they be creating? Low paid ones that is for sure.
As the Daily Mirror also reported yesterday, Next’s Chief Executive Lord Wolfson claimed that the £6.70-an-hour they pay many of their staff was “enough to live on” and he “criticised those calling for firms to pay staff a Living Wage, set at £7.85 across the country and £9.15 in London.” On this point, it is important to point out that TUSC supports union-led demands for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to £10-an-hour.
Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for retail staff, said:
“By asserting that there are a lot of people for whom £6.70 is enough to live on multi-millionaire Tory peer Lord Wolfson shows himself to be an out of touch arrogant hypocrite. He could have diverted the special £300m paid out to shareholders to pay for jobs with longer hours per week and to pay staff a living wage but he choose not to… GMB members tell us that in their experience you need at least £10 an hour and a full working week to have a decent life free from benefits and tax credits. Less than £10 an hour means just existing not living. It means a life of isolation, unable to socialise. It means a life of constant anxiety over paying bills and of borrowing from friends, family and pay day loan sharks just to make ends meet. NEXT says that it is over-subscribed when offering jobs. This is a reflection on the level of youth unemployment across Europe not that NEXT jobs are so good.”