Young man with Asperger’s dumped by B&M after 15 hours of free work as campaigners demand end to ‘trial’ shifts

Fast-growing retailers B&M asked a man with Asperger’s to work for three days without pay before dumping him.

Craig Robertson, 25, thought he had secured a paid position after his three five-hour “trial” shifts at the chain’s store in Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

He was one hour from starting his planned shift last Sunday when a manager phoned to tell him he wasn’t needed.

Craig thought he had secured a job. He said: “As far I was aware, I was coming in to start working properly.

“I was down on the rota for that week to work on Sunday then the following Saturday afternoon.

“I was just getting ready to go out and they said they didn’t want me.

“I was extremely disappointed. I was under the impression that I’d got the job.

“They said I’d not shown the urgency required. If they had any concerns, they should have told me before, not just before I was going to start.”

Craig, who stacked shelves during his trial, added: “If it was really because I couldn’t do that work then fine. But they should have told me during the work trial. I was led to believe I had the job.”

Craig, from Shotts, went for an interview on November 4 before taking part in the trials which he knew were without pay. He said a woman had been doing free shifts at the same time.

Craig was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism that can affect how people interact with others, at 13.

He has been looking for work since leaving school seven years ago, is on employment benefit and has taken part in work placements and voluntary work.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay was put in touch with the family through a relative in his Lothian constituency.

Craig’s mum Catrina said her son wants to hold down a job and appealed to employers to treat people fairly.

She said: “He’s desperate for a job – he’s shown he’s willing.

“He needs clear instruction but he has the capability and deserves a chance.”

Catrina approached B&M at the weekend for an explanation but had heard nothing by yesterday afternoon.

She said: “To say I was angry would be an understatement.”

The Record put the allegations to B&M Stores but no one from the firm, whose chairman is former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, responded despite repeat attempts to reach them.

The Record demands end to this disgraceful practice
The Daily Record today calls for an end to ­soul-destroying unpaid ‘trial shifts’ for people trying to get a job.

We are supporting campaigners including MP Stewart McDonald to demand a change in the law amid growing anger at the scale of the exploitation.

The hospitality trade has already been named as a high-profile offender but big retailers are also accused of taking ­advantage of job seekers with long, unpaid ­so-called “interviews”.

Today, the Record reveals claims that B&M Stores expected one man to work three unpaid shifts as a “trial”.

A manager then dashed his hopes by telling him not to come back – just one hour before he was due to start what he thought was his first paid shift.

The campaign kicks off as shoppers across the UK take part in the annual Black Friday pre-Christmas shopping spree.

In Scotland, campaign groups such as Better Than Zero have been targeting bosses who rely on unfair zero-hour contracts and use unpaid shifts.

And at Westminster, McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow South, is trying to ban trial shifts without pay.

He lodged a private member’s Bill this year and has secured support from other parties – except the Tories, who say they will give it “consideration”.

McDonald said: “Unpaid trial shifts are common practice across the UK. However, they are also exploitative and take unfair advantage of people ­genuinely seeking work.

“On Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days on the calendar, it’s ­increasingly more likely you’ll be served in a shop by someone working an unpaid trial shift.

“The run-up to Christmas is also a time when employers are more likely to take advantage of people genuinely seeking work.”

He claimed young people are working as many as 40 hours for free.

During research for his Bill, McDonald heard how people were asked to cover busy evening shifts without pay, even after the employer had already decided to hire them.

Some people complained they had been asked to do a trial, then heard lots of others did the same – none of them getting a job.

McDonald said: “The private member’s Bill I have brought forward has received the support of the STUC, NUS, and the Better than Zero campaign.

“It’s time this Tory Government and parties across the UK also stepped up to the mark.

“A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.

“All work should be paid fairly and properly, which is why the practice of exploitative, unpaid trial shifts must come to an end.”

At Holyrood, Labour, Greens and the Lib Dems have backed the SNP’s ­challenge to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Scottish Tories said: “This is a thoughtful Bill which is worthy of careful consideration.

“Ruth Davidson will do just that and Mr McDonald will receive a response in due course.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay has long campaigned against zero-hour contracts and unpaid shifts.

He said: “They are systematic within the retail and hospitality sector.

“People are being taken on for trials, kept for two or three days, free labour from them, and then told there’s no job.”

So what do you think?

Tell us in the comments.

Source : https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/calls-end-christmas-shop-slavery-11575968

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