11 Days Remaining

Thursday 25th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

Distribution centre staff promise second week of action over contracting out

ARGOS management were accused of “despicable disregard” for workers yesterday as a strike in the company moved into its second week.

Workers at distribution centres in Basildon, Bridgwater, Burton-on-Trent, Heywood and Lutterworth fear “a contracting-out culture” will lead to job losses and lousy working conditions.

Earlier this year, Argos revealed plans to transfer nearly 500 workers at its Lutterworth site in Leicestershire to Wincanton logistics in Kettering.

Despite repeated requests by general union Unite, Argos has refused to give guarantees that workers at other sites will maintain their terms and conditions.

After workers voted for strike action, bosses failed to secure an injunction to stop the strike going ahead.

Staff began a two-week walkout on Wednesday morning last week.

In an interview with the Star, Burton site Unite convener Mick Casey said the morale of the striking workforce, which numbers up to 1,400 workers, had been “absolutely amazing” following a rally earlier this week.

He said workers were “ready to stay out the whole [second] week” to stand up against a management which had refused to listen to their concerns.

“Argos have had this attitude for a long time but it seems to have intensified when Sainsbury’s took us over [last September],” he said.

“We went to [conciliation service] Acas. It took them two hours to tell us we don’t want to talk to you, and another two hours to say we don’t understand the points you’re having a dispute about.

“Management’s disregard for our membership at Sainsbury’s Argos is despicable. Our members are not commodities, our members are human beings.”

Mr Casey said the workforce had come together to resist the plans and would not allow bosses to pick off one section at a time. “My members know if I tell them something, I’m telling them the truth,” he said.

“And I realised how much problems my site would have if they [outsourced] us in the future.”

An Argos spokeswoman said: “We strongly believe this dispute to be wholly unnecessary as the union has made a series of demands in the full knowledge that they cannot be met, for legal reasons.

“We are disappointed with the court’s ruling against our injunction based on a technicality but will be submitting a further application.

“We can reassure customers that we have strong contingencies in place and their orders and deliveries will not be affected.”