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Lancashire firm scraps ban on staff wearing Poppies

by Tony McConville. Published Tue 10 Nov 2009 10:47

An MP has welcomed a decision by a Lancashire-based retailer to drop a ban on staff from wearing Poppies at work.

The row erupted after staff at cosmetics firm Bodycare were threatened with disciplinary action for wearing Poppies because they are "not part of their uniform".

A worker at one store told how she was humiliated and ordered to remove a Poppy that she had pinned to her lapel.

The Bodycare chain employs over 1600 staff nationwide, and has an annual turnover of #123 million pounds.

Bodycare worker Catherine Barr told of her dismay when she was ordered to remove her poppy at the branch in Wigan, Lancs.

Catherine, 49, had said: "I refused to remove it. I was quite upset and really annoyed.

"Because I refused to take it off, they called the area manager and they came down and I had a meeting with them.

"In the end, I still had to remove it, otherwise I was facing the prospect of a disciplinary hearing.

"I wasn't asking Bodycare to support it, I was just asking to be able to wear a Poppy for work."

Bodycare said its policy extends to all "charity pins" but armed services veterans and the British Legion condemned the ban.

But following a storm of protest, and a call by Labour MP Rosie Cooper for a boycott of shops that ban staff from wearing Poppies, the managment at Bodycare had a change of heart and said staff could wear Poppies.

West Lancashire Labour MP Miss Cooper said: “The Poppy Appeal holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of the nation and a ban on wearing has to be challenged on all occasions.

“On hearing this story I called for a boycott of stores that ban staff from wearing Poppies.

“I am pleased to see that stores such as Bodycare have had a change of heart.”

A British Legion spokesman said: "The fact that is that Bodycare are not alone in this, it is not as unusual as people might think.

"We are never critical of businesses which decline to allow their staff to wear Poppies or Poppy collections on the premises.

"It is a matter of choice for companies to decide which charities they support and when."

A spokesman for GR and MM Blackledge, Bodycare's parent company, said: "As a business we have a strongly multi-cultural heritage and we wish to ensure we never, even inadvertently, discriminate against any of our members of staff.

"For that reason, we have a policy that prevents all members of staff from wearing badges which portray a personal statement of their beliefs. Our understanding has always been that, for this policy to be valid, it has to apply to all badges or emblems, including poppies.

"We have had a very helpful dialogue with our Member of Parliament, Lindsay Hoyle, who has assured us that the wearing of this symbol of remembrance is a unique case, and would not be seen as a relaxation of our policy.

"Having received that assurance, we are happy to change our policy and allow our members of staff to continue wearing their poppies.

"As our policy has always been intended to ensure that we do not cause offence to anyone, we hope we have not done so and sincerely apologise if that has been its unintended effect."


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"i find women waering a burka is offensive but bet this is not banned in these shops people should boycot these shops purmanently" Troy, London around 2 years, 11 months ago

" . . and these shops will be the first to put their shutters up, for protection if war breaks out. thanks to our hero's youre able to trade" Kathy, Bedfordshire around 2 years, 11 months ago

"is this Body Shop or Bodycare as it could damage Body Shop if its not the same company " su, suffolk around 2 years, 12 months ago

"wont shop there ever again " Noelene, Lancaster around 2 years, 12 months ago

"Too late to back track never using these shops again also asking friends to boycott as well. " pyshop, Erskine around 2 years, 12 months ago

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