Mystery of why Matalan store sacked 10 employees

PUBLISHED: 17:01 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

BAFFLED employees at a St Albans store were forced to leave immediately after a surprise round of sackings. Ten staff members at Matalan in the St Albans Retail Park in Griffiths Way were dismissed during work on Saturday, February 7, with no explanation

BAFFLED employees at a St Albans store were forced to leave immediately after a surprise round of sackings.

Ten staff members at Matalan in the St Albans Retail Park in Griffiths Way were dismissed during work on Saturday, February 7, with no explanation as to why the action was being taken.

Francesca Joseph, aged 17, has been a general sales assistant at the clothes store for more than a year and said she was in tears when her manager delivered the news and added: "I've never even received so much as a bad-behaviour warning so it was very shocking to be sacked. Even my manager looked like he was about to cry."

Francesca, who lives in Carlisle Avenue, and the other employees - three of whom work full-time - had to leave the premises immediately and were each sent a letter on the following Monday confirming the company's decision.

To confuse the situation further, the sackings have come during a recruitment period at the store and new staff are currently being trained for the now-vacant general sales sssistant positions.

Francesca, who worked on Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, said that even Matalan's Human Resources department couldn't tell her why she was sacked when she rang them.

Said Francesca: "I think it must have something to do with money and perhaps the new people are being paid less. I suppose everyone's trying to save nowadays."

But Matthew Taylor, a solicitor for Matalan, said that the company were not reducing pay rates or staff sizes. He also confirmed that all 10 employees would be replaced by fresh recruits.

He added: "I cannot go into detail about the reasons why the Matalan employees were dismissed due to the Data Protection Act. But I can say that it was not a disciplinary issue."

When asked for a more adequate explanation for the sackings, Mr Taylor said: "Every business has to look at requirements of staff at regular intervals. All I can offer is my apologies to the ex-staff members and my assurance that they will be paid what they are entitled to."

The St Albans store, which refused comment, has offered each ex-employee two weeks payment to be included in their final wage packet. Francesca, who is a sixth-former at St Albans Girls School, said that she hoped she could get a new job soon so that she could continue saving up for university.

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