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Store staff call for €400-a-year wage rise

MORE than 5,000 Brown Thomas and Dunnes Stores staff are looking for a €400-a-year pay rise.

Sales assistants at up-market fashion chain BT want a 2pc increase in their wage packets, while staff at Dunnes Stores are looking for 3pc.

The union is bringing the pay battle to the Labour Court today.

If agreed, the new pay schemes will see full-time staff at the stores getting an average €400 a year extra on their wages -- part-time staff would see their pay packets increase by less.

Awarded

Similar talks took place earlier this week on behalf of 3,500 Penneys staff, who want a 3pc rise in pay, while 700 employees at Boots are looking for a similar increase.

More than 3,000 Marks and Spencer and 13,000 Tesco employees were awarded pay increases of up to €700 last year.

Debenhams recently agreed to a 2pc pay rise, which will be implemented from September 1. The increase was decided following an agreement by 1,400 staff at Debenhams to extend a pay freeze, which has been in place for two years.

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light is hopeful that pay increases will be negotiated at Brown Thomas and budget fashion chain Penneys. However, he is not as hopeful for the staff at Dunnes. "It will be interesting to see what the Labour Court decides if it's 'the same old, same old', from Dunnes over the pay claim, and it does not turn up," he said. "IBEC is saying that national agreements are dead, but these claims are a case nouveau and wouldn't be a bad start to the year," added Mr Light.

However, the union acting for Brown Thomas had a battle on their hands at this morning's talks.

The union does not agree with the company's plans to end a system of paying commission to some staff on a group basis, instead of paying it to individuals.

Turnover

Mr Light will argue for better pay on the grounds that employers in retail had enjoyed their most successful Christmas in five years.

"Our members are working harder than they were during the boom times but have not had pay increases in the last four to five years," he said. "Although turnover is down, all of these employers are still making significant profits."

hnews@herald.ie