Globe, Human Rights, Politiks, Trade Unions, United Kingdom, Workers

Workers at Debenhams: on the poverty line

Whilst many companies in London are becoming richer, their refusal to pay salaries in accordance with the standard of living in the capital remains an issue and is resulting in an impoverished population.


tRABAJADORes Debenhams flir4
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Although the National Minimum Wage in the United Kingdom is £6.50 per hour, the so-called Living Wage is* £9.15 in London.

This is due to the cost of living in the capital, which is ranked as highest in the country.

However, many companies base what they pay employees on the National Minimum Wage, causing employees to live in poverty. According to the most recent figures, Debenhams is one of these multinational retailers, with profits of up to £90 million gross in the 26 weeks to February 2015.

Furthermore, they have spent £25 million on their new flagship store, where they pay most of their employees £6.50 an hour.

The maintenance of the National Minimum Wage in London by many companies has consequences for the thousands of families whose earnings are barely enough to live on for a month.

Consequences including: children who rarely see their parents, having to choose between putting on the heating or doing the shopping, and stress, depression and anxiety due to the situation they are in.

To this we must add the luxury of transport. Most low-paid workers people opt for the bus, as it is the cheaper, but slower, means of travel, leading to yet more time away from the family home.

Having multiple jobs is also common amongst those who need to increase their earnings.

tRABAJADORes DebenhamsMeanwhile, both the use of cheap labour and the cost of living continue to rise. In fact, although it is a basic necessity, the cost of housing has reached record figures in the capital.

According to the agency HomeLet, rent has shot up 12.5% in the country as a whole. Higher than 2014.

In London it has increased even more with the average rental price reaching nearly £1,500 per month. With these prices the National Minimum Wage is not at all sufficient to survive on.

tRABAJADORes Debenhams money
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Despite this, Debenhams has publicly declared that “wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income”.

However, although Debenhams ” that workers are paid above the NMW in all countries they operate in”, why is the UK excluded from this alleged enhanced rate of pay?

Faced with this situation, United Voices of the World, a union consisting primarily of immigrants on low salaries, has written a letter to Debenhams, and has asked for a meeting with those responsible in the company to discuss the implementation of the London Living Wage.

tRABAJADORes Debenhamsv2In any case the union plans to extend this action other companies who follow the unethical example of Debenhams.

In addition, the union has warned that if there is a refusal or no response by 4 pm. on the 24 July, a campaign will be launched on the London Living Wage. This will consist of repeated lawful, peaceful, and noisy protests; advance information given to the press; action with other unions; and a call to Members of Parliament to support the protests, amongst other things.

Date and time: 25 July at 2 pm. Place: Debenhams 334-338 Oxford Street. For more information please see:


(Translated by Emily Russell)

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