Partnership urged to meet with union bosses over plans to slash 11,000 roles
John Lewis bosses have been warned they risk sparking a staff walkout as workers demand answers over planned mass job cuts.
The partnership, which owns John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, has been told it must urgently meet with union bosses to discuss its plans to slash 11,000 roles.
In a letter to John Lewis chairman Dame Sharon White, GMB said it was poised to ballot the retailer’s workers over strike action if she failed to provide more detail on the upcoming cuts.
GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “As the union that represents John Lewis workers, we call on you to meet urgently with us to discuss these changes and to give your workforce the meaningful representation they clearly need.
“If workers do not get the answers they feel they deserve, they will not hesitate to request that GMB begins a ballot of workers.”
This would be the first step towards a strike, with workers expected to first be asked whether they would be prepared to take industrial action over the issue to help the union gather views on how to progress.
Around 250 John Lewis Partnership workers are understood to be members of the GMB union.
A spokesman for John Lewis said: “We’ve just received the letter and will reply to the GMB.”
It comes as relations between the retailer and its staff become increasingly strained over upcoming job cuts, which many staff learned about in media reports.
Workers have been asking for more detail over the plans, including urging the partnership to publish recordings from an internal meeting last week where John Lewis’s executive director of finance Bérangère Michel provided some reasoning behind the worker changes.
John Lewis is yet to lay out the scale of upcoming cuts to all of its workers, although last week confirmed to staff that it would need to reduce its workforce.
Department heads were said to be working on plans to cut around 11,000 roles, equal to 10pc of its entire staff. Dame Sharon White and chief executive Nish Kankiwala said “difficult decisions” needed to be taken to protect the partnership’s future.
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