MPs target firms in ’embarrassing’ Xmas song
They say it’s not about the tunefulness but a group of Labour MPs have recorded what they admit is an “embarrassing” song about the minimum wage.
The honourable members donned Santa hats and antlers to record the single, which is to the tune of the 1980s hit Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid.
The lyrics refer to “Scrooge” employers who have cut back on overtime pay and other perks to bring in the National Living Wage, currently £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and over.
Some of the best-known names in British business are mentioned in the song: “B&Q, Tesco and Waitrose, John Lewis, Caffe Nero and Eat. Be ashamed of how you treat your staff.”
They are also urged to “keep their perks”.
A dozen MPs joined the singalong including former soldier Dan Jarvis, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and Kevin Brennan, who sings with Parliament’s in-house band.
One of those involved, Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, told her local newspaper it was a “fun/highly embarrassing way of raising an important issue”.
MP Siobhain McDonagh, who organised the recording last week, told Sky News: “We are not anti-business, we love business. We want business to treat their employees fairly.”
Ms McDonagh, the MP for Mitcham and Morden in south London, said she got the idea from one of her constituents.
The father of two working at B&Q claimed he would be £2,600 a year worse off under the National Living Wage due to cuts in overtime pay and allowances.
He has since been reimbursed some of the money.
“People accept contract changes because they can’t afford to lose their job. The gap between the pay for those at the bottom and the top executives is getting wider,” said Ms McDonagh.
“Our biggest and best companies have a responsibility to treat their loyal staff with respect. That’s what we want to highlight – we don’t expect people to praise our singing voices!”
Among the practices they mention are the end of double time on Sundays and Bank Holidays; extra pay for anti-social hours; cutting back on free lunches; and cutting pensions and seasonal bonuses.
The MPs are also writing to the chairs of the companies’ boards asking them to reverse the decisions.
Labour’s press office insisted it was the MPs’ personal decision to record the song and stressed it “has nothing to do with the Labour party”.
The recording has not been universally admired on Twitter. One man, Owen Evans, wrote: “Tesco gave me a job…I’d rather go into Christmas employed than not.”
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries called it “a seriously pathetic swipe at businesses who employ, pay wages and taxes which pay for our NHS and schools and troops and doctors”.