Unite, the UK’s leading union, has accused senior management at Sainsbury’s of effectively erecting a ‘brick wall’ to prevent the union developing an alternative business case to the planned closure of the Argos distribution centre in Bridgwater, Somerset.

Facing closure

The 230 strong workforce were left shocked and fearing for their future, when Argos which is now owned by Sainsbury’s, announced last month that it intends to close its distribution centre in Bridgwater Somerset next year.

Unite, which represents the workforce at the centre, has entered into consultation on the company’s plans, but when it has sought additional information it has been repeatedly told that what was requested is “commercially sensitive” or the information has been presented in such a way that it is unusable.

Worrying rumours

The workforce have become further alarmed that Sainsbury’s are simply paying lip service to the consultation process, as there are rumours circulating that the site has already been sold.

In a separate development Unite is becoming highly concerned about the company’s commitment to ensure modern day slavery does not occur in its supply chain.

The company has said that there are no modern day slavery problems as auditors Deloitte’s had conducted research and given the company a clean bill of health. But when Unite requested to see a copy of the report it was told that it was “commercially sensitive”.

Guilty management

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “Sainsbury’s management is guilty of negotiating in bad faith.

 “Unite is committed to looking at all options to save jobs and keep the distribution centre open but in order to construct a viable alternative business case the company needs to supply key information.

 “By effectively erecting a brick wall by blocking the information that Unite needs to develop a counter-business case Sainsbury’s is deliberately preventing meaningful consultation from occurring.

 “The fact that rumours which have spread like wild fire among the workforce, that the site has already been sold, adds further weight to the belief that the company is simply going through the motions and is not serious about considering alternative options.

 “The refusal to publish the report on modern day slavery is even more alarming. If the company has nothing to hide why is it not being transparent and allowing Unite to read the report.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.