Next has said it is “no longer justifiable” to pay Sunday workers who joined before 2008 a £1,000 a year bonus and is threatening staff who do not accept changes in their contracts with redundancy.
The high street giant currently gives 800 workers who joined the firm before 2008 an extra £20 for working Sundays but newer recruits are not entitled to the bonus.
Employees who joined Next before November 2001 receive time and a half on a Sunday. Those who joined between November 2001 and June 2006 get time and a quarter on a Sunday and joiners between June 2006 and September 2008 get time and 10%.
All employees are now being moved onto new contracts which do not offer extra pay on a Sunday, following a consultation period in March. The GMB union said the staff rejected the terms, but Next said 99% of staff accepted.
Of the 800 people affected 167 get time and a half on a Sunday and 90% of them have accepted the new contract. Nine have decided to take redundancy and the remainder, around 10 people are currently deciding whether to accept the new proposal or take the redundancy package.
Staff members that do not accept are to be made redundant.
Next said it had offered compensation equal to one-third of the Sunday premium that staff earned over the past year to those who make the change.
A spokesman for Next said: “Working on a Sunday, since it was introduced back in the 1990s, has become a new normal – so Next feels it is no longer justifiable to pay some of its staff up to 50% more than colleagues doing the same work on the same day.”
Mick Rix, GMB national officer for retail workers, said “The day after the general election GMB started to get calls from members employed by Next saying managers were asking them to agree to the removal of the Sunday premium. They were warned failure to do so could result in redundancy and many told us that they felt bullied into signing it.”
He added: “Next claim that they consider Sunday to be a normal working day and use this opinion to justify cutting pay on Sunday. There can hardly be a better example of a company that has a total disregard for family life. Multi-millionaire Tory peer Lord Wolfson shows himself to be an out of touch arrogant hypocrite.”
Last month Next’s chief executive Lord Wolfson said he would raise shop floor staff wages by 5% from £6.70 an hour to £7.04 in October, or £7.58 including bonuses.