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Harrods first employer to threaten to replace striking staff with agency workers


Harrods has threatened to replace striking staff with agency workers
// Harrods has written to staff threatening to replace striking staff with agency workers
// Staff at the luxury department store are currently being balloted over strike action after rejecting a 5% pay rise

Harrods has been accused of ‘bullying’ staff with threat to replace those that choose to strike with agency workers, making use of a controversial new law.

The law was brought in by ministers in July after unions staged the UK’s largest rail strike in 30 years.

The luxury department store, which is owned by the state of Qatar via its sovereign wealth fund, has made the move as 150 staff ballot for strike action over a “pay cut disguised as a rise”.

A letter sent on 8 August to staff working in store services, engineering, maintenance and security, said: “Recent legislative changes relating to the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations now allows agencies to provide temporary workers to perform duties normally performed by a worker who is on strike. 

“We are therefore no longer restricted from engaging temporary workers should any industrial action take place now or in the future.”

READ MORE: Harrods delays summer sale as supply chain chaos holds up new season stock

Harrods action comes as strikes become more prevalent as workers battle for pay rises amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Amazon staff have been staged a series of strikes over the past two weeks after staff rejected a 35p pay rise. Meanwhile, Royal Mail workers are set to strike for four days in August and September after the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rejected a proposed pay rise.

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 government legislation designed to break strikes.

“Harrods’ attempts to use this new legislation to bully our members doesn’t change a thing. 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 ballot for strike action at the luxury department store opened on Thursday 11 August and closes on 1 September. Harrods staff rejected an initial 5% pay offer, which is behind RPI inflation of 11.8%. 

If strike action goes ahead, there will be a picket line outside of Harrods’ main entrance at its iconic Knightsbridge store.

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