Usdaw accuse Government minister of 'throwing in the towel' following Shop Direct debate

Date published: 02 May 2018

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Shop workers union Usdaw have accused the Government's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy minister Sam Gyimah of already 'throwing in the towel' following a House of Commons debate last night on the plight of Oldham's Shop Direct workers.

Usdaw have congratulated Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams for standing up for Shop Direct staff during the adjournment debate, one which saw support from Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon, Barbara Keeley MP (Worsley and Eccles South) and Liz McInnes MP (Heywood and Middleton). 

Mrs Abrahams highlighted the devastating impact the company’s relocation announcement had on staff at the Shaw Distribution Centre and Chadderton's Raven mill, which is no reflection on their hard work, dedication and loyalty to Shop Direct, a thriving company.

As she went through the details of the situation at the three sites in Greater Manchester - Shop Direct's Little Hulton site was also affected - the MPs called on the Government to intervene in the situation.

However, Usdaw were clearly disappointed with the response.

Usdaw Divisional Officer Mike Aylward said: “Our members at Shop Direct are grateful to Debbie Abrahams and her Labour colleagues for raising their concerns.

"Shop Direct staff are at the forefront of the effects of the introduction of new technology, as they face seeing their Greater Manchester workplace, employing nearly 2,000 workers, move to the East Midlands, employing only 500.

"So it is right that these issues are debated in Parliament and the Government is required to provide a response.

“Our members will have been deeply disappointed to hear the Minister offer little more than warm words.

"It was clear that he has already thrown in the towel as he focussed on retraining and redundancy support, rather than saving jobs.

"We believe there is a role for the Government to intervene and support the staff facing redundancy.

"There are questions to be answered about what the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ actually means to working people in the North West.

“We have had our first formal consultation meeting with Shop Direct, which was constructive.

"We have requested more detail about the employer’s business case.

"We are also seeking further information from Oldham Council about the offer they would like the company to consider.

"This is only the start of a statutory period of meaningful consultation with the company and we anticipate many more meetings as we go through the process examining all options to avoid redundancies.”

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams speaks at an adjournment debate in the House of Commons last night to demand the Government supports workers affected by the Shop Direct closures

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