The delivery of Christmas gifts from Argos, such as iPhones, could be seriously disrupted as drivers are set to strike for 72 hours over the failure to honour holiday back pay, Unite, the country’s largest union, warned today (Tuesday 13 December).
The drivers work for Wincanton based at Argos’ flagship national distribution centre (NDC) at Barton-under-Needwood, near Burton on Trent, in Staffordshire will strike for three days from 00.01 on Tuesday 20 December.
The drivers voted by 83 per cent to strike and by 95 per cent for industrial action short of a strike over Wincanton’s failure to honour holiday back pay for at least the last two years. Each driver is owed an average of about £700.
The reason that the Staffordshire site is so critical is that it supplies the other seven Argos NDCs across the UK which, in turn, deliver to the Argos shops – Unite said that a strike would have a knock-on effect causing ‘havoc and mayhem’ to deliveries in the crucial days running up to Christmas.
The dispute with Wincanton centres on how holiday pay is calculated. Legal cases have established that overtime and extra shift payments should be taken into account when assessing holiday pay.
The management has offered to backdate the holiday pay from April this year, while Unite says the pay should cover at least the last two years, hence the estimated £700 owed to individual drivers.
In a separate dispute, Wincanton drivers working at the Argos centre in Basildon in Essex are voting on whether to take industrial action over a disciplinary system relating to ‘uncontrolled vehicle movements’. This ballot result is due on Friday (16 December).
Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: "The drivers have patiently tried to resolve this matter for over two years. Now they would like the money they are owed in time for Christmas, which is not unreasonable.
“It is very difficult to understand why Wincanton has allowed this saga to get out of hand because this strike by our members will cause havoc and mayhem to deliveries to Argos shops in the run-up to Christmas.
“There will be a lot of very unhappy Argos customers, if they don’t receive the iPhones, TVs and ‘white’ goods that they have ordered as presents for relatives this Christmas.
“We can assure Argos customers that strike dates are only being announced as a last resort and that Unite’s door is open 24/7 to try and settle this long-standing dispute."
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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.