The ‘brutal’ planned closure of a DHL Supply Chain site in South Yorkshire and a ‘derisory’ pay offer has prompted 15 days of strikes, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said.
About 120 warehouse workers, members of Unite, at the two sites at Tickhill, Doncaster and at the nearby site at Harworth will start their rolling programme of strikes on 15 May in protest at the closure of the Harworth site and a pay offer of 1.25 per cent for the year starting June 2016.
The union warned that many of the 150 workers at the threatened Harworth site faced losing their jobs.
The workers voted by a majority of 78 per cent to strike for 24 hours on 15 May; for three days on 25 May; and for 11 days from 1 June. All strikes will start at 22.00.
Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said: “The strikes are in response to a derisory pay offer of 1.25 per cent and in the context of a brutal TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – manoeuvre which will see the closure of DHL’s Harworth site and potential job losses for many of the 150 workers based there.
“These are individuals, many of whom are ex-miners, who walk or cycle to work from the neighbouring villages of Tickhill and Harworth and will be expected to travel 20 miles to the site at Markham Vale, operated by Great Bear Distribution, where warehouse workers are paid £1 an hour less.
“We want to resolve the dispute and protect as many jobs as possible by replacing agency workers with the permanent staff who face relocation to Markham Vale.
“For those that can’t undertake the new travelling distances, we want a guarantee of a generous redundancy package.
“As ever with these TUPE exercises, vulnerable workers are shoved from pillar to post without any security. This move is the result of DHL losing a contract and another company - Great Bear - refusing to give our members any reassurances about their futures.
“In talks yesterday (Wednesday 3 May) with the two companies, the bosses at Great Bear revealed that the daily two 10-minute paid breaks are being abolished and trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights currently enjoyed by the Harworth workers will also not transfer in June.
“The management also said that it would refuse to recognise Unite as the union for the TUPE’d workers for collective bargaining and pay negotiations.
“I think we can see the clear direction of travel here – that our members will see reduced pay and conditions under the new set-up.
“This latest twist of the knife just reinforces the strong mandate we have for 15 days of strike action.
“However, we urge the management at DHL and Great Bear to negotiate in a constructive fashion before this dispute escalates and disruption for their customers occurs very swiftly.
“Our members are not going to be pawns in some corporate cost-cutting exercise. These are hardworking employees and they deserve to be treated decently – and Unite with fight to that end.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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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.