Mark Barter, Unite Convenor at the Argos Basildon site, reports on the on going battle over changes to terms and conditions.
"In November last year Argos’s new Distribution Director came to us with a set of proposals to change our terms and conditions. These included Saturday working, 2.5 hours increased working week at standard time which previously would have been extra for, clocking breaks, and an overtime cut to name a few.
He also bought in an industrial relations consultant who didn’t hold back in warning us of the consequences of strike action.
The new director then set about ‘pressure testing’ the convenors who sit on the national forum committee, grilling for two hours the new convenor at Castleford, threatening to de-recognise me in a private meeting, while suspending the convenor at Bridgewater. He also refused to budge on anything significant and was playing hardball, we obviously couldn’t reach an agreement and talks finally broke down when Argos issued an HR1 – notice to terminate & re-engage on inferior new contracts.
We were expecting an amendment to our existing contracts but instead got a completely new contract with loads of changes that we hadn’t been consulted on, including their ability to change our contracts for any reason and being able to disclose our trade union membership details to 3rd parties!
We went on strike firstly on a Sunday, got a small offer of more money but when we re-balloted our members they voted to continue strike action so we went out again last Friday and we are now planning to ramp things up and go out for a whole week, the week before Argos launch their new catalogue!
The fight continues…"