John Lewis boss Sharon White faces the threat of workers going on strike over fears of massive job losses.
Staff have sought assurances that jobs at the society, which owns department stores John Lewis and Waitrose, will be safe.
There have been reports that the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) plans to cut up to 11,000 jobs. It is considering reducing its 76,000-person workforce by at least 10 percent.
In a letter to White, the GMB union said it could vote workers out if White did not urgently meet with them. About 250 JLP employees are members of the union.
The union’s national leader, Nadine Houghton, wrote: “If workers do not get the answers they believe they deserve, they will not hesitate to request that GMB initiate a worker vote.”
A bad sign: staff have asked for assurances that jobs at the company, which owns department stores John Lewis and Waitrose, will be safe.
A JLP spokesperson said last night that the letter had been received and they would respond “in due course”.
The letter states that workers are “deeply concerned” that the recent reduction in severance pay constitutes “the first step in a major round of job cuts.”
According to GMB, this move was taken with “little or no consultation” with the employee body, known as the JLP Partnership Council.
It is understood an elected sub-committee of the council made the decision.
The John Lewis Partnership has struggled for several years.
Last month, White told employees there would be “pretty bold changes” as the company looks to return to profit this year.