However, with fast technological developments and greater linkages between various countries around the world, there was greater competitiveness in the retail sector thus creating a need to adopt less adversarial approaches to employee relations. The Company realised that they had to engage their employees a little more. This led to some of the present staff management practices adopted by the company. The company has tried instituting some sound principles within management but there are still certain problems here and there. (M&S, 2007b)
In the past, there were no cases of Sunday trading. Workers in the retail sector counted on the fact that their work arrangements did not necessitate additional efforts. However after introduction of Sunday trading in the UK, there was a need for all retail companies to adjust their employee schedules to suit this change. Marks and Spencer was no exception; in response to this change, it created flexible hours for its employees so that it could allow employees to balance their social life with their careers.
In the early nineties, most workers within the retail sector used to work for a period of thirty six to thirty eight hours per week. In Marks and Spencer, eighty percent of their employees used to comply with this rule. But currently, most workers need to put in more hours in order to meet demand. M&S have adjusted to this through employment of more workers and through better employee schedules. (Mellahi et al, 2002)
Trade Union Actions
The TUC is one of the most influential bodies in the United Kingdom especially when it comes to protecting workers rights. Marks and Spencer has had to watch out for the activities and protests conducted by some trade Unions. One such example occurred in the year 2001. Marks and Spencer has opened up some stores in different parts of the world including France. The Company had made the decision to close all the stores in Europe and halt operations immediately. This was one of the most controversial issues the retail giant has ever faced. In a speech made by the TUC General Secretary, the Union highlighted the fact that Marks and Spencer were not really faced with financial difficulties in those operations. The Union also asserted that the closures were simply and endeavour by the organisation to impress City sentiments rather. They believed that the company was not really concerned with issues surrounding profit making.
TUC also said that they were trying to protect foreign worker's rights in general. Marks and Spencer tends to export their bad employment practices into other countries. The Trade Union brought to the forefront the issue of complacency prevailing in M&S stores. The Company had not been very considerate at some stage in their firing and hiring processes. These practices are quite common in the UK despite their notoriety. But in some European countries like France, these employment practices are quite unlawful. The trade Union spoke about how M&S has been sacking employees without notice in those countries and how it faced the full arm of the law. (Storey et al, 2005)
TUC advocated for more dialogue and consultations between employees and employers at all times and not when issues have spiralled out of control. The actions of this trade Union and others have caused M&S to change some of its employment practi