Staff at Wigan’s Marks and Spencer branch are being treated “appallingly” over the company’s move to Robin Park, according to one employee.
The high street giant will close its Standishgate branch this year and replace it with a food-only store at Robin Retail Park, which will open at the same time.
Staff have been consulted over the possibility of relocating to either the new branch or to other existing shops in the area, but one long-serving employee says the company’s hierarchy is not listening to the concerns of staff who are being offered positions at stores miles away.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous but revealed they had worked at the Wigan store for more than 30 years, said: “We are going through the process of finding out where we are being redeployed to. But they are treating us appallingly.
“If we only selected Robin Park and no other then they picked one for us. Some picked two different stores but were given a third choice instead.”
And while a commute to the likes of Chorley, Preston or Middlebrook might not pose too large of a problem for some, there are many Wiganers who have worked at the Standishgate store for decades, and have never had to learn how to drive to get to work.
“They think it’s quite alright for people to have to travel long distances, when they don’t have their own transport,” the employee said.
“Some people will need to get two buses to get to their new location. Some people have asked for redundancy, but M&S aren’t giving it because they say they have found new jobs for us.
“I for one, would’ve liked redundancy and I know a few more would.”
They added: “They are being very difficult, and we feel we are having to fight for what we want. I am an older person, I’ve been given somewhere that’ll be difficult to get to.
“When you’ve done 30, 40 years service for a company, you’d expect more.
“People seem to think it’s a nice, caring employer. But customers can’t believe the way we’re being treated when they ask us.”
Another employee, who also wished to remain anonymous, accused the company of ignoring the loyalty and hard work of long-serving staff, and instead giving the jobs at Robin Park to temporary workers and those who live closest.
There are just 50 jobs going at the new food outlet, with the rest of the employees being transferred to Middlebrook, Leigh, St Helens and Chorley.
The member of staff said: "We have been told we won't be reimbursed for travel costs even though some will have to catch two or three buses.
"Some would have to travel one or two hours a day just to get to a part-time job.
"Staff have been refused representation during one to one meetings and have been told if they do not accept the new places of work it will be taken that they have resigned, but we believe this is effectively constructive dismissal.
"There is no redundancy on offer even though other M&S employees have already received a pay-out. There is a complete lack of respect for staff."
An M&S spokesperson said: “Shopping habits are changing and reshaping our store estate to reflect this means making some difficult decisions, but we don’t want good people to leave M&S.
“We’re still having individual conversations with our M&S Wigan colleagues about what is best for them but are hopeful that the majority of colleagues will move to our nearby stores, including our new store at Robin Retail Park.”