Union knight embarks on quest for new members

St Michael, the ‘patron saint of grocers’ (pictured), was sent to the NEC in Birmingham last week to talk to thousands of Marks & Spencer’s staff attending a US-style motivation exercise.

The publicity stunt, arranged by shopworkers union Usdaw, was designed to encourage staff to sign up to the retail union – which is not currently recognised by M&S.

Usdaw criticised M&S for spending an estimated 10m drafting in a New York business guru to speak to all 56,000 staff at a series of mass sessions last week.

But Keith Cameron, HR director at M&S, defended the exercise. He said it was part of a much bigger programme to motivate staff.

“We chose Mary Gober from six contenders – not because she was American, but because she has an individualistic approach,” he said.

“The whole idea comes from the fact that M&S wants a new, motivated, trained workforce with good careers. We are also training people in-store and have had 8,000 staff volunteering to become coaches and team leaders,” said Cameron.

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