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People Who Work In A Topshop And Miss Selfridge Warehouse Are Striking Today – Here's Why

"I don't have a problem with Sir Philip Green having a yacht but why can't we have a living wage?" one worker told BuzzFeed News.

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Workers who handle Topshop shoes and clothes for Miss Selfridge and Burton have taken strike action for the fourth time in six months, in a row over pay.

The Solihull site, run by DHL logistics on behalf of Sir Philip Green's retail empire, Arcadia, sorts clothing to be sent to retail stores and online customers around the country.

Workers there, many of whom say they are paid the legal minimum wage, are calling for a pay rise to the rate of £8.45 – the rate of pay recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage Foundation rate is based on the amount it calculates "employees and their families need to live".

Workers in Leeds have also taken industrial action calling for a pay rise.

BuzzFeed News spoke to several Arcadia warehouse staff who claim never to have been paid more than a base rate of the legal minimum wage, though some workers are entitled to premiums for different shifts.

This was despite in some instances having worked for the company for up to two decades, they said.

Some Solihull workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News pointed the finger at DHL, which operates the contract on behalf of Arcadia. Others pointed to billionaire Green's lavish lifestyle and said he should ensure they're paid a "decent living"'

"I think it's disgraceful," one person told BuzzFeed News. "Surely with the amount he's got the living wage would cost him a small amount to pay. We're helping to make that wealth.

"We're not asking to be millionaires, we're asking for a decent living.

"They tell us things are hard on the high street, but on the other hand we've been told digital is expanding all the time – and at the same time [Arcadia is] building a new site in Daventry, and obviously there's money for that."

Staff at the site work different roles, meaning they are paid different rates. The pay rate is also, BuzzFeed News understands, different depending on when a worker joined the company.

For example, some longstanding staff are entitled to time and a half for overtime and bank holidays, while newer contracts set a lower rate.

One worker said they were paid a premium rate for what they described as a more specialist role but that this was still under £8 per hour.

That "differential", they said, also risked being eroded by the mandatory pay rise minimum wage earners would receive from 1 April, when the government raises the legal minimum wage from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour.

One worker said morale in the warehouse was "horrible", while another added: "We are demoralised by it. Our job is a lot of responsibility and we were rewarded as a result but now we are not."

David Warwick, a regional organiser for the union GMB, told BuzzFeed News raising pay to the Living Wage Foundation level was about "dignity at work".

"It's about respecting the workforce and paying them sufficient to be able to bring your family up, to a reasonable standard of living," he told BuzzFeed News.

"That's what the Living Wage Foundation is about. They don't just pull it out of a hat – they scientifically work out how much it costs to live a reasonable quality of living, no great luxuries...maybe one holiday a year, and enough money to buy new clothes for the kids."

BuzzFeed News contacted DHL, and the company said in a statement: "We are disappointed that the GMB has announced its intention to hold industrial action. We believe our offer to be fair in the current economic climate."

Arcadia had not provided a response at the time of writing.

Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Sara Spary at sara.spary@buzzfeed.com.

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