Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Waterstones staff deliver petition, self-published book with backing of 9000

Staff at UK bookselling chain Waterstones have handed in their petition for a ‘real living wage’, featuring more than 9000 signatures, to the chain’s head office in London, reports the Bookseller.

Piccadilly Waterstones bookseller April Newton established the online campaign, which has now been signed by 9294 people, calling for Waterstones booksellers to be paid £10.55 (A$19.58) an hour for the Greater London area and £9 (A$16.70) an hour for the rest of the UK. More than 2400 authors and industry figures also signed an open letter to Waterstones managing director James Daunt expressing their support for the campaign.

Campaign organisers also planned to present Daunt with a self-published book called Working at Waterstones, which includes anonymous testimonies from staff about their experiences of living on a low wage.

A former bookseller wrote: ‘I made promotion a couple of times, and even then I was still paid under the living wage … I was running a two-storey, regular-size busy London store on four staff a day. It got to the point where I had panic attacks because of the stress. The pay just makes you feel so incredibly undervalued.’

In a recent interview, Daunt warned that the company’s future was not yet secure, and said that the dispute over pay had ‘obscured’ recent progress at the chain. However, a Waterstones spokesperson said that Daunt would be ‘very pleased to receive the petition’.

‘We are all in agreement, after all, that it is important to raise the pay of booksellers,’ said the spokesperson. ‘The question of whether it is more important to raise the pay of entry-level booksellers to the “real” living wage, or more important to raise that of booksellers committing to careers at Waterstones, remains a difficult one. We think we have to prioritise our more experienced booksellers but welcome the debate.’

The UK’s minimum wage for workers under 25 is currently £7.70 per hour (A$14.12).



Category: International news