Croydon TUC has backed a proposal that as a condition of its involvement in the Westfield/Hammerson Whitgift Centre scheme that John Lewis that it directly employ its cleaners and pay them at least the London Living Wage.
The proposal was put in the closing submission by Sean Creighton at the CPO Inquiry on Friday 13 March.
He had previously argued at the Inquiry on 5 March that too many of the jobs will be in low-paid retail and likely to be filled by poorer local people who will not have disposable income to spend there.
It was clear that this argument, plus an email from the Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union to the Inspector over the pay treatment of John Lewis’s cleaners, hit a nerve with the Council at the Inquiry session on 5 March. The Council’s Executive Director of Development & Environment Jo Negrini attempted to counter it by arguing that retail and leisure jobs are not all low paid. She illustrated it by talking about the work carried out with John Lewis at Westfield Stratford resulting in the employment of about 300 long-term unemployed including two at management level. While declining to comment on the issue of the cleaners she extolled the broader virtues of John Lewis as a partnership.
Sean Creighton suggested to the Inspector ‘Let us suppose that John Lewis employs 500 staff in a store in Croydon there remain c4,500 jobs in the retail and leisure centre which are likely to be at lower levels of pay from employers who are not as enlightened as John Lewis. It is to be hoped that given its commitment to employers being London Wage payers that the Council will negotiate an agreement with John Lewis that if it takes up rental it will take its cleaners back into their workforce and pay them at least the London Living Wage. Anything less not only damages its reputation as a form of social enterprise, … but also damages the reputation of the whole social enterprise sector.’
He proposed that the Inspector recommend a modification to the CPO to require CLP to make it a condition of a tenancy to John Lewis that it directly employ its cleaners and pay them at least the London Living Wage.
The support for the proposal was approved by Croydon TUC at its AGM on Thursday 12 March as part of Sean Creighton’s report to as convenor of its working party on the Council’s Growth Plan and Croydon Assembly working group on the local economy.
For the views of IWGB on John Lewis’s involvement in the redevelopment see