Socialist Worker

BHS worker—‘The system is rigged against people like me’

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2507

BHS bosses raked in large profits at the expense of workers

BHS bosses raked in large profits at the expense of workers (Pic: Flickr/Dominic Alves)


Some 11,000 jobs are set to go after Duff & Phelps, administrators for BHS, failed to find a buyer for the retail chain.

BHS has 163 stores across the UK.

Former boss Philip Green is thought to be worth £3 billion. He recently splashed out on a £100 million superyacht.

Green sold the chain to Dominic Chappell for £1 last year and left the company with a £571 million deficit in its pension fund.

Green had refused to pay more than £10 million a year into it—while giving his wife, who doesn’t pay tax in Britain, £1.2 billion in dividends.

The terms of the government’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) means workers face a 10 percent cut in their pensions thanks to Philip Green’s greed.

And they don’t yet know what kind of redundancy deal they’ll be offered.

Workers at BHS spoke to Socialist Worker. “One of my managers is over 50,” said Siyad. “She’s been here since she was 16. She has no qualifications apart from retail and is not going to get anywhere near her full pension.

“There are people who have been here for five, ten, even 30 years. They have to get something.

“To give your life to a company and then, instead of being told ‘thank you’, getting a slap in the face is disgusting.”

Ripped

Another worker said, “If I tried to do what Philip Green and Dominic Chappell have done, I’d go to prison. The system’s rigged against people like me.

“Philip Green has friends in parliament who can advise him about how to get away with things like this. At the end of the day, it seems he did nothing illegal.”

People employed by Dorothy Perkins and Wallace, which have stands in the stores, have been ordered by their management not to speak out. Some of their jobs could be relocated, but most will go.

Out of the 11,000 jobs set to go, 8,000 workers are employed directly by BHS and 3,000 on concessionary stands in the stores.

One security guard said, “I’ve been here five years. Us security guards aren’t employed by BHS.

“But there will still be job losses because the company’s contract with BHS has been cancelled.

“Dominic Chappell’s a vulture. He said he’d change things. He did nothing.

“When Philip Green sold the company for £1 everyone knew it was going to shut down.”

Details of the sale are due in coming weeks. The response from the Usdaw union has been mealy-mouthed.

“There are some very serious questions which need to be answered”, said national officer Dave Gill.

There should be resistance and exposure of the scandal.

One canteen worker summed up how many feel. “All we were told is that it’s eight weeks before the store closes and we lose our jobs. What can I say? We’re nothing to them, they don’t care.”


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