17 November 2023
Please be advised that Liz Moran Head of People Ireland wrote to Mandate’s Interim General Secretary Jonathan Hogan on 16th November 2023, regarding the Company’s proposal in relation to the Time & Attendance Function and the collective discussions that have recently taken place. You will note from the Company’s email statement below that they are suggesting “If we can’t reach an agreement, we will have to consider all alternatives, which could potentially include the option not to implement the system as originally envisaged which would mean that the status quo would remain, and therefore the current package would no longer be proposed in circumstances where our colleagues would remain in their roles”.
Given the serious nature of the Company’s stated intention and the upset caused by the announcement some weeks ago that our members’ jobs were at risk of redundancy, as well as the uncertainty this has created for our members, we are now in the process of seeking an urgent meeting with the Company’s management team and our sub group of representatives to discuss the content set out in the Company’s correspondence below. As soon as we receive a response to our request, we will notify you of same. Please bring the contents of same to the attention of our members impacted by the proposed changes.
For Mandate Trade Union
The Marks and Spencer Strategy Team
As it is some weeks since we held our last collective consultation meeting, I feel it would be helpful to reiterate M&S’s position.
Since collective consultation opened on 19 September, we have been working hard and in good faith to reach an agreement with Mandate.
Over a number of collective consultation meetings we have engaged, listened, and considered Mandate’s proposals on behalf of the members and I think that M&S’s engagement in good faith in the process is reflected by the fact that where possible, we have moved our position. As we have explained, our priority has been to retain talent and to mitigate redundancy where possible. During the talks you acknowledged the progress we had made and the position we had reached in terms of the redeployment opportunities that we can offer our impacted RLA and RLB colleagues. In theory, no one needs to leave the business if they wish to remain in M&S although there will be a need to change their role. However, despite moving our position more than once, we have not been able to reach agreement on our proposed discretionary redundancy terms. At our last collective consultation meeting on 18 October, we offered what we consider to be the same, if not better discretionary redundancy terms than those applied in 2021. I believe I have made it clear that this is the business’s final offer. We consider that this is a good offer in the circumstances and in particular within the retail industry.
Mandate has expressed its desire for us to make a ‘joint’ referral to the WRC. M&S remains, as always, willing to consider participating in the WRC process. However, as previously explained, on reflection and having reviewed the documents your office sent over, I remain unsure on what basis the business would currently make a ‘joint’ referral as we have not reached a ‘joint’ position and it would be highly unusual for an employer to make a referral in those circumstances. We fully respect it is entirely within Mandate’s prerogative for the union to make its own referral.
Like any other employer we have to balance business costs with the need to mitigate in a reasonable, fair and appropriate manner the impact on our colleagues where our overriding intention for them to keep their jobs. We entered into these talks with every intention of reaching an agreement with Mandate on the potential impact on the People function of the implementation of a new digital T&A system. If we can’t reach an agreement, we will have to consider all alternatives, which could potentially include the option not to implement the system as originally envisaged which would mean that the status quo would remain, and therefore the current package would no longer be proposed in circumstances where our colleagues would remain in their roles.
I hope this clarifies our position so that you can update your members as appropriate and would be obliged if you could confirm that you have done so.
We remain committed to having a good and productive relationship with Mandate and I remain available for further talks on next steps. I’m sure you agree that our colleagues deserve to have clarity as soon as possible.
The Mandate response can be read here