Union accuses M&S of using IT to hunt down dissenters

GMB union officials yesterday accused iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer of using staff surveys to hunt down dissenters. The GMB's legal officer Maria...

GMB union officials yesterday accused iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer of using staff surveys to hunt down dissenters.

The GMB's legal officer Maria Ludkin said a twice-a-year company survey of staff opinion was meant to be anonymous, but could only be filled in online. This meant that each questionnaire could be tracked back to the individual employee who filled it in.

Tony Goode, the customer relationship database manager sacked by M&S last week for blowing the whistle on the retailer's plans to cap redundancy payments, said that in some cases where a staff member had criticised management, senior managers had drilled down to identify the source.

Goode was in discussions with The Times newspaper over leaking results of the staff survey to support his concerns about staff morale in M&S.

He wrote that he was "struggling to get the survey figures as they have been removed from our company intranet site. The highest figure, related to bullying and discrimination being tolerated in the workplace, was 41% and covered our marketing and customer insight area."

An M&S spokeswoman said she had been assured by M&S's HR director that staff surveys were anonymous. Online responses were used for speed and efficiency in surveying 60,000 people, she said. Replies were recorded over time to establish trends in departments so that managers could, and did, act on them, she said.

She said the survey results were available on the internet. "They were never taken down," she said, adding that the company "did not recognise the statement relating to the 41% ."

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