UK retail trade organisation Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) has urged retail major Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) to open up a dialogue with the union over store closure plans.

In collaboration with the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the union launched a petition against M&S in a bid to ensure staff is properly represented throughout their store closure programme.

During the shareholders’ AGM meeting last week, M&S chairman Archie Norman noted that the company will not rule out further store closures and job losses.

“The staff are telling us they want Usdaw to represent them; it should be their choice.”

Speaking at the retailer’s annual meeting, Norman said: “This business is on a burning platform. We don’t have a God-given right to exist and unless we change and develop this company the way we want to, in decades to come there will be no M&S.”

The union is currently representing M&S staff to help them secure jobs affected during store closures.

According to Usdaw national officer Dave Gill, M&S management is not consulting its staff on the future of their jobs and they need to be properly represented by an independent trade union.

Gill said: “Usdaw has thousands of members working for Marks and Spencer and the staff now need, more than ever, the representation and support of an independent trade union, an experienced and knowledgeable trade union interrogating the company’s business case for this store reorganisation.

“We again urge M&S management to abandon their long-held resistance to allowing Usdaw to represent the staff.

“It is simply unjust that the company have made the decision not to engage with a trade union. The staff are telling us they want Usdaw to represent them; it should be their choice.”