‘Morale low’ after staff lose out in pay packets

T.J. Hughes store Terminus Road Eastbourne
T.J. Hughes store Terminus Road Eastbourne

TJ HUGHES staff have been left confused and skint after a shortfall in their pay packets.

Some of the 55 people who work at the Terminus Road department store have not been paid for eight-and-a-half weeks. Others have not had their overtime paid and employee’s wages are currently down by one week’s pay.

The problem seems to have arisen during the take-over period when the Benross Group, the parent company of Lewis Home Retail, bought and Eastbourne’s TJ Hughes store and saved it from closure after the struggling chain went in to administration in June.

The administrators have said they are not liable for the wages and a letter to staff, from managing director Anil Juneja, said, “Our business is not in a position to suffer the cost of wages and overtime that we have not received the benefit of.”

However, the letter also tries to reassure staff they will not lose the money which is owed to them and tells the employees to recover their wages through the Secretary of State’s National Insurance Fund.

In the meantime, the company is offering employees a loan, so they can continue to manage their personal finances.

But an employee told the Herald morale in store is low, staff are confused about the payment situation and are struggling to honour their commitments because of the shortfall in their wages.

A TJ Hughes employee, who didn’t want to be named, said, “It has put a lot of people in dire straits financially and they have the choice of paying their rent or eating - that’s the reality.

“Everybody is really angry and fed-up with the situation and because everything is based in Liverpool which is miles away and we have been told all sorts of things.”

The Herald made efforts to contact the managing director and those responsible for the wages but they were unavailable for comment.

However, the letter to staff from Mr Juneja said, “I can only apologise about this situation that I assure you is not of our making. “I can only hope you will recognise the effort that we are going to as a management team to ensure you are paid on time with the correct wages.

“This does represent a significant admin and cash flow burden to the business but we as a business value our staff and ensure they are paid the correct wages on time.”

The town’s TJ Hughes still has a sale on and the Herald understands it will close for two days in September before re-opening under the new owners. The store will continue to trade under the TJ Hughes name.