Waterstone's denies pay freeze

Waterstone's denies pay freeze

<p>Thirty members of Waterstone&#39;s staff have approached a retail trade union over concerns that the chain&#39;s harmonisation of terms and conditions will result in a pay freeze. </p><p> Paul Lee, national officer at the Retail Book Association, said that about 30 Waterstone&#39;s staff have contacted the trade union over fears that the harmonisation, which will unify Waterstone&#39;s and Ottakar&#39;s staff contracts, could result in staff being worse off in real terms.</p><p>&quot;Some of the career booksellers who do not wish to become managers will keep what they have,&quot; he said. &quot;However, they are afraid that their pay will be held at that level. The staff will be entitled to a pay review but not a pay rise . . . therefore their pay could go down in real terms.&quot; One Waterstone&#39;s member of staff said: &quot;A wage freeze has been foisted upon the most senior bookselling staff, some of whom will be on the same pay rate for a number of years.&quot;</p><p>But a Waterstone&#39;s spokesperson was adamant that the chain is not implementing a pay freeze. &quot;The company is budgeting for a pay increase,&quot; she said. &quot;There are a small number of individuals who will not get a pay review because of the wider harmonisation. Everyone will be brought in line with them. We believe these existing rates are very competitive.&quot;</p><p>She added that there are other opportunities for increasing salaries within the business, such as taking a management role or secondment.</p><p>Among the proposals put to staff two weeks ago was that some pay grades would be removed, with the existing five grades streamlined into a four-grade structure. Another Waterstone&#39;s staffer claimed that this could lead to discord among senior booksellers. &quot;Booksellers who have been at the company for years will be put onto the same grade as someone who may not have worked there as long,&quot; he said. &quot;That usually isn&#39;t good for morale, particularly in stores with a lot of senior booksellers.&quot;</p><p>But he conceded that the harmonisation of contracts, an issue that has been facing Waterstone&#39;s since it took over Ottakar&#39;s last year, was inevitable. &quot;It is a good idea for the company to finally deal with this issue, but unfortunately not everyone is going to be pleased with it,&quot; he said.</p><p>The Waterstone&#39;s spokesperson reiterated that the proposals are still under consultation, with the consultation period due to close by end-June. Any changes agreed would then be implemented in July. &quot;We are still dealing with their feedback,&quot; she said. &quot;We are harmonising the business to encourage the most experienced people [to move] through our business. We want experienced booksellers in management roles.&quot;</p>