12 November 2005

Outrage over ban on staff wearing poppies

Belfast Telegraph

By Ashleigh Wallace
awallace@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
12 November 2005

RETAIL company TK Maxx has been accused of treating the people of Northern Ireland with "utter contempt" after it emerged that it has banned its Ulster workforce from wearing poppies.

Lagan Valley Assembly member Edwin Poots said the company's policy of banning poppies has "perpetuated the divisions in Northern Ireland," prompting him to call for a change in policy.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed staff in Northern Ireland were banned from wearing poppies to work, adding that the ban did not extent to employees in stores in England, Scotland and Wales.

Branding the policy as "outrageous" Mr Poots said he had been contacted by several members of staff employed in the Lisburn branch who have been left upset by the ban.

Despite the ban, several employees chose to ignore it and wore their poppies to work earlier yesterday.

All TK Maxx stores in Northern Ireland were due to observe a two minute's silence - in memory of those who lost their lives in the wars - both yesterday and tomorrow.

Mr Poots said: "The poppy is representative of the entire community but TK Maxx has turned it into a sectarian issue, which is to their shame.

"The people of Lisburn and Northern Ireland paid a heavy price during the two World Wars and also during the 30 years of terrorism here from 1969.

"The policy of TK Maxx is an attack on the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

"2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two and is the last major chance to thank all those ordinary men and women who went on to do extraordinary things 60 years ago.

"TK Maxx has treated the people of Northern Ireland with utter contempt by its refusal to allow their members of staff to wear the poppy."

A spokeswoman for TK Maxx said: "Given the conditions in Northern Ireland we, along with other retailers, ask our employees not to wear any emblems, except those of our nominated charities."

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