Deliveries to Argos stores in England, Wales and Ireland could be severely disrupted from tomorrow (Wednesday 17 May) when up to 1,400 warehouse workers start a two week continuous strike in a dispute over job security and terms and conditions.
The warning from Britain’s largest union, Unite comes as a high court judge today (Tuesday 16 May) threw out an application by Argos to stop the strike.
Starting tomorrow at 06:00 and stretching over the next two weeks, the strike involves members of Unite working for Argos at the retailer’s distribution centres in Basildon, Bridgwater, Burton-on-Trent, Heywood and Lutterworth.
The warehouse workers who prepare deliveries for Argos stores are fearful that a contracting out culture will lead to job losses and a deterioration in their terms and conditions.
Earlier in the year Argos revealed plans to transfer nearly 500 workers from its Lutterworth distribution hub in Leicestershire to Wincanton logistics in Kettering. Despite repeated requests by Unite, Argos has refused to give guarantees at all its distribution sites that workers’ terms and conditions will be safeguarded in the future.
Commenting Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “We are deeply disappointed at the belligerent and aggressive stance Argos has taken.
“Unite had hoped that we could have reached a negotiated settlement when we attended talks at the conciliation service Acas the other week. Instead Argos has sought to use the law to ride roughshod over its workers’ concerns and refused to engage positively.
“Our members have legitimate concerns about being transferred to another company or being offered alternative employment on potentially inferior terms, if they are unwilling to travel to a new site.
“They are fearful that a contracting out culture will take hold and have asked for guarantees about terms and conditions going forward, in addition to the ability to take voluntary redundancy if a site moves and they cannot transfer.
“The silence from the company is doing nothing to allay those fears and points to a cost cutting agenda. Unite urges Argos to start engaging constructively and offer the guarantees its directly employed warehouse workers are seeking.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.