Department store Harrods may take advantage of new legislation and draft in agency workers in the face of strike action. 


Harrods may take advantage of new legislation in the event of a strike

The retailer has written to about 150 Unite union members who work in departments such as services, engineering, maintenance and security, warning that the recent change to the law “now allows ­agencies to provide temporary workers to perform duties normally performed by a worker who is on strike”, The Mirror reported.

Unite members are getting ready to vote on a possible strike after rejecting a 5% pay offer – below the level of inflation. However, Harrods warned in its letter: “We are no longer restricted from engaging temporary workers should any industrial action take place now or in the future.” If Harrods follow through, it will be the first known occasion that the new law has been deployed.

A Harrods spokesperson told The Mirror: “As a business, we undertake rigorous and regular ­bench­­marking to ensure all colleagues are paid competitively. Our base pay rates are very ­competitive within the industry, and the pay rise we have offered will ensure this remains the case. Unfortunately, we are unable to award these payments to all impacted colleagues until pay negotiations have concluded with Unite.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It comes as no surprise that Harrods, known for catering to the supremely well-off, could be the first employer Unite has come across to threaten low-paid staff with the recent legislation designed to break strikes.

“Unite is prepared for all eventualities, and our members at Harrods will receive the full backing of the union in their fight for a fair pay rise.”

The cost-of-living crisis has prompted a wave of strikes and industrial action in a raft of industries, including at some Amazon distribution centres.

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