Dave Gill – Usdaw National Officer says:
"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. This news is a devastating blow for the staff and the shock waves will be felt on high streets throughout the country. 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.
"We believe the Government has also got 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 have over online retailers.
"In the meantime we are providing the support and advice our members in BHS require at this very difficult time."
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Consultation and protective awards:
An employer proposing to make collective redundancies is required to consult in advance with representatives of the affected employees and the consultation must be completed before any notices of dismissal are issued. A complaint of failure to consult may be made to an employment tribunal and if upheld, the tribunal can make a protective award. The cost of the award can be picked by taxpayers if the company is deemed unable to pay.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion