Marks and Spencer sacks media whistleblower

Marks and Spencer has sacked an executive for leaking details of plans to cut redundancy payments for its 60,000 staff to journalists.

An internal disciplinary enquiry on Monday ruled against the London-based male employee who has 25 years’ service at the company and has not been named.

He was sacked for passing on facts and documents about a plan to cut the maximum redundancy pay from 70 weeks’ pay to 52 and told journalists of the widespread staff unrest over the news. The leak led to a story in The Times which then followed-up on the employee’s suspension soon after.

The redundancy plan was watered down after it first appeared in The Times last week: the maximum pay-out will now by 62 weeks’ pay.

The GMB union represented the employee at the hearing and called the decision to sack him a ‘gross act of bullying”. The union intends to appeal the ruling.

An M&S spokesman said: ‘He broke the company’s rules and regulations and deliberately leaked internal company information and made derogatory and speculative comments to the media, despite a variety of internal routes available to address any concerns.

“Thirdly, we cannot be confident that he will not disclose information in this way again.”

The company denies the case is one of whistle-blowing as it denies he was exposing wrong-doing.

Maria Ludkin, the GMB’s legal officer who represented the man at the hearing said: ‘The disappointing part of today’s decision is that M&S’s head of global HR, John Wareham, stated that the 25-year-long service of this employee is totally irrelevant to the decision to sack him.

“M&S have shown that they are more concerned about maintaining a repressive regime for their staff than about promoting open discussion about the direction of the company and the way that the staff are treated.

“GMB will be appealing against this decision in the internal procedures and will launch a public campaign to secure justice for this M&S worker inside and outside the company.”

Times business editor David Wighton wrote last week that ‘M&S’s management should focus less on disciplining whistle-blowers and more on ensuring that its stores do not run out of salad”.

NHS nurse Karen Reissman was this week taking her employer to a tribunal after she was sacked for talking to a local business magazine in Manchester.

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