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SSG to face staff tribunal
03.04.08 | Graeme Neill
At least 20 former staff from Christian bookseller St Stephen the Great are preparing to take their former employer to an industrial tribunal, according to shop workers union Usdaw.
The grievances are believed to stem from staff who refused to sign new contracts, which reversed previous owner SPCK's guaranteed minimum hours policy. Usdaw confirmed its legal department was preparing at least 20 claims to send to the tribunal, but would not comment further. SSG chairman Mark Brewer added: "We haven't received these claims and will not have any comment on them if/when we do."
Since the Christian chain was taken over by the Brewers in October 2006, staff have walked out en masse in the Exeter branch, while several stores have been closed temporarily or placed on reduced trading hours.
Seven staff at the Carlisle branch were sacked on Monday following their refusal to sign new contracts. The Lincoln branch closed last month, and SSG closed its Cardiff and Bristol branches on Monday blaming "substantial and on-going trading losses". Two staff were employed at the Cardiff branch.
SSG also said that it has employed new staff for the shop in Sheffield, and that it "intends to continue on there despite the spiritually and financially hostile environment". SSG now operates 20 branches in Great Britain.
SSG, which is run by brothers Phil and Mark Brewer, said that it believed "the worst is behind it". It blamed a downturn in retail and increasing pressure on Christian booksellers for its troubles.