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Staff to strike at Marks & Spencer on Saturday, December 7

In a statement today, Memet Uludag – People Before Profit Alliance local representative for Castleknock/Blanchardstown - hits out at M&S over what he describes as their ‘unnecessary and purely profit driven'attempt to close their defined benefit scheme.

On October 31st, Marks & Spencer management closed the workers’ defined benefit pension scheme without agreement – informing the workers that their retirement fund is a ‘discretionary benefit’. Unlike many other defined benefit schemes, the Marks & Spencer scheme is a performing scheme and is in surplus to the tune of approximately €17m.

The company has also put forward proposals in relation to a whole range of cost saving measures including:
• A reduction in the number of Section Managers;
• A reduction in the Sunday and Public Holiday premium;
• The elimination of the Christmas bonus.

Mandate which represents the majority of the 2,300 staff of the company balloted members who voted overwhelmingly for strike action (94%) which is set to take place across 17 stores nationally on Saturday 7th December.

Memet Uludag, People Before Profit’s local representative in Dublin 15 (Castleknock/Blanchardstown) will be visiting the picket line at the The Blanchardstown Shopping Centre at 12:30 on Saturday, December 7.

Mr. Uludag said "One of the - behind the scenes - attacks on workers’ conditions in Ireland are the closures of defined benefit (final salary based) pension schemes. There is an on-going agenda by employer groups to close the schemes and in some cases replace them with pension schemes where all the pension fund investment risks are offloaded to the employees."

"M&S is the latest company to close its currently well-performing defined benefit pension scheme."

M&S has shut its UK final-salary pension only to new members but explained its decision for full closure in Ireland as “the decision in Ireland followed similar cutbacks by rival employers”. The retailer said: "These changes are in line with the Irish market. The changes we are making will help manage these costs for the long term and ensure our business is best set up for the future."

Memet Uludag said "there is a sickening 'race to the bottom'agenda in Ireland when it comes to workers terms and conditions. Companies, who promote the idea of competition as a great 'thing' for businesses and the citizens, repeatedly use the very same competitive environment as a reason to attack the workers conditions. The so called 'Irish market' is nothing but an employer-lobby driven agenda to co-ordinate these attacks on workers.”

"When it comes to pensions, salaries, overtime payments etc. employers are very happy to explain the cuts and reduced terms by using the market conditions and other competitors as a reason. The reality is that the retailers and employer lobby groups are collectively creating an environment to justify these attacks. Event the profitable companies are milking the recession to implement permanent measures."

Mr Uludag concluded by saying he will be down at the picket line at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre at 12:30 on this Saturday to show support and solidarity with the striking workers of Dublin 15.

For more information contact
Memet Uludag 

Tel: 087 7919307 | Twitter: @memzers | Facebook: Memet "memzers" Uludag |

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