Union plea for BHS to look after ‘long-serving and loyal’ staff

BHS in Eastbourne / Picture by Jon Rigby

BHS in Eastbourne / Picture by Jon Rigby

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A shopworker’s trade union has urged BHS to ‘redouble their efforts to find a buyer and to fully consult with staff’.

Following the news yesterday that the company will be wound down, Usdaw issued a statement calling on administrators to ‘continue to reach out to find a suitable buyer for the business’.

The union’s national officer Dave Gill said: “I was encouraged by a conversation I’ve had this morning with the administrators, who were keen to tell me that they hadn’t liquidated the company and, although it’s on a structured wind down, the door is still open to a buyer who can meet their criteria.”

He said redoubling their efforts to find a purchaser was ‘the very least that long-serving and loyal BHS staff deserve’.

Directly after the announcement was made on June 2, Mr Gill said: “The staff in BHS have been in a state of anxiety and uncertainty for over a year after the company was sold for one pound, went into administration and has now been put in liquidation.”

He deemed it ‘a devastating blow’ and stated ‘the shock waves will be felt on high streets throughout the country’.

Mr Gill said: “There are some very serious questions that need to be answered, by former owners of the business, about how a company with decades of history and experience in retail has now come to this very sorry end.”

He also called on the government to ‘take a hard look at the process of administration. Currently the law requires administrators to liquidate a company if they believe that secures the best return for creditors, regardless of whether there is an option to keep the business going and secure jobs. Now that decision has been made for BHS, we urge the administrators to comply with the law on consultation and not force the staff to seek a protective award which can result in taxpayers picking up the bill.

“There are wider concerns the Government needs to address about the future of the high street as we see yet another major player go to the wall. Very real concerns need addressing about the impact of business rates, high property rents and the much higher tax liabilities high street retailers they have over online retailers.

“In the meantime we are providing the support and advice our members in BHS require at this very difficult time.”