Court action for up to £12,000 each for young GMB members as Chester firm evades national minimum wage laws

Posted On: 
8th January 2014

Court Action For Up To £12,000 Each For Young GMB Members Paid On Commission On Door To Door Sales In London For Chester Firm Evading National Minimum Wage Laws

GMB would like to hear from others also abused to join them to this claim as these are just two of many who were hired and forced to work long hours and paid virtually nothing each week.

GMB is taking legal action for two young members who worked for six months for a part of PerDM, a Chester based door to door marketing firm, to recover unpaid wages and unpaid holiday pay of up to £12,000 each after they were paid less than the national minimum wage for a six month period.

The case is due to be issued in Chester Civil Justice Centre after 17th January following letters before claim sent on 28th November 2013.

These members Camille Meunier and Jamie Wright, from Welling, Kent earned just £60 a week for working 12 hours-a-day, Monday to Saturday, making door-to-door sales for six months during the latter half of 2012 and early 2013. Camille and Jamie, both 21, worked for two subsidiary companies of PerDM. These were Silverscreen Communications and Dominion Acquisitions Ltd.

PerDM describes itself as a “highly cost-effective communications resource”. It is the largest face-to-face sales company in the UK and Ireland, with a client list including TalkTalk, EDF Energy and Vodafone. PerDM sub-contract work to smaller companies across the country.

These GMB members job was to go around London selling loft insulation and LoveFilm subscriptions door-to-door. They were told they were self-employed despite their employers directing them when to come in, when to leave, what to wear and providing them with materials to carry out their work. They were also told they would be working for commission and wrongly told they would not be entitled to the national minimum wage. See notes to editors for rules for workers on commission.

Workers such as Camille and Jamie are recruited to work in sales roles for which are often advertised as 'no experience required' and are promised that they will reach management level within a matter of months.

Within weeks of becoming employed Camille and Jamie were told to hire new people for sales positions.

Job adverts state that no experience is required, salary expectations are made and it is often not mentioned that the work is for 100% commission and that they would be classified as self-employed.

The Advertising Standards Authority has previously ruled that such advertising is misleading and should be stopped, in the case of one company.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for legal and corporate affairs, said"GMB decided to bring this case on behalf of our members because it reflects our concerns about the ruthless exploitation of workers by stripping away their employment rights, hiding behind a series of agency arrangements.

This pernicious form of precarious employment is just one type in a model we are seeing repeated used by a number of tax dodging companies including, in this case , Amazon.

Camille and Jamie were effectively working for nothing in a pyramid recruitment scam whilst PerDm used their labour to market and sell for large multi nationals who could easily afford to pay a living wage.

With the cost of getting around London this left them with £5 a week to take home. So it wasn't long before these members got into debt. When they were working 12 hours-a-day out on the streets they had to eat so they had to use their own money leaving payments for household bills overdue with threats of the bailiffs around.

Jamie was forced to sell his car and move back in with his parents and Camille had to give up her flat.

Camille's wages were so low that she couldn't afford to buy winter shoes so when it began to snow last winter, she went door-to-door wearing slip-on ballet shoes which she described as a “deeply depressing” experience.

These are just two of a number of people who were hired by these companies, forced to work long hours and paid virtually nothing. GMB would like to hear from others so that we can join their claims to these claims”.

Michael Newman, solicitor at Leigh Day taking the case for GMB, said“My feelings about PerDM are that it is essentially a pyramid scheme - an unsustainable business model where the only parties who profit are those at the top - PerDM. Individuals are tempted into work with the lure of being able to progress through a 'management development' scheme, but in effect they are they are only being given permission to hire more individuals to work for PerDM. The 'opportunities' they are been granted are really opportunities for PerDM to profit, rather than for people like Jamie and Camille to get ahead.

My view is that all of the companies involved should be part of the claim, at least until one of them accepts responsibility for employing Jamie and Camille. If they won't accept that, then we will have to join them all as defendants and let the court decide who owes them unpaid wages. See notes to editors 2 for evasive media statement by PerDM."