The petition, addressed to Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green, calls on him to honour his BHS pensions pledge. That means fully funding the deficit made so serious by his management of the company and the £400m paid out in personal dividends. The 107,547 signatures were gathered by Usdaw, working with Care2 and the TUC.
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are calling on Sir Philip to honour his promise to ‘sort’ the BHS staff pension scheme, which faces a deficit of £571m. We agree with the pensions regulator that your initial offers of £250m are not nearly enough to fulfil this promise. Months have already passed since the last BHS store closed. Now BHS pensioners are worried it might be years before they see the result they need.
“Usdaw members in BHS and their colleagues were left devastated by the collapse of the company. 11,000 hard-working and loyal staff have tragically lost their jobs. Now they could also lose great chunks of retirement savings they thought were safe. Current and future BHS pensioners need to have their futures secured.
“If Sir Philip wants to recover any reputational credibility he must not haggle his way out of his responsibilities, he must make a full contribution and do it quickly. That is the least he can do for former staff, many of whom spent their entire working life at BHS.”
Voices of the petitioners: Hundreds of petitioners added comments along with their signature, here are some examples of their views:
“As a former BHS employee I believe that Philip Green has a moral duty to help protect the pension entitlements that are due.”
“Hard working employees don't deserve to lose out because of your greed. Do the decent thing.”
“Stop being so pigheaded, think about what effect your greed will have on the people who always dug deep and worked tirelessly to make you even richer.”
“I honestly don't know what I would say to him. Could he look me in the eye?”
“I’d tell him that he has let so many people down - past employees and pensioners, those that lost their jobs, suppliers and customers. How does he really feel about that?”
“Try to make him understand what it means to be an ordinary person who doesn't earn or spend a fortune.”
“If someone stole what you had worked for, how would you feel? This is what you are doing to people with much much lower living standards. The law has helped you do it, yet you have a moral duty to pay BHS staff back their own pensions. If you need their money so much in order to fund your lifestyle, think how they must feel. Why is that OK?”
“Your reputation is in tatters. Please do something to redeem yourself.”
“My pension may be reduced in the future and I have seen many close friends and colleagues lose their careers and be forced to take much reduced statutory redundancy payments.”
“Three family members worked for BHS and lost jobs”
“I lost my job and was without work for 8 weeks, I have had to take a temporary seasonal job on a zero hours contract just to get back into work”
“Anxiety over the future, anger at my £30,000 pension pot going toward buying his yacht and leaving me in a state of worry.”
Notes for Editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
The petition of 107, 488 names was gathered in partnership with the TUC and online petition website Care2, demanding Sir Philip honour his obligations to the BHS staff pension scheme. Representatives of Care2 and the TUC joined Usdaw to hand in the petition.
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion