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Further disruption to Argos distribution network, as workers gear up to strike

Published: 4 August 2017 - Fiona Garcia
Argos deliveries are likely to be affected as warehouse workers in five of its distribution are set to strike for three weeks
Argos deliveries are likely to be affected as warehouse workers in five of its distribution are set to strike for three weeks

Argos customers could see a delay of three weeks for their orders, as more than 1,000 warehouse staff get set to strike over an ongoing redundancy payments row.

The UK catalogue retailer is faced with three weeks of strikes across its distribution network in a dispute over the failure of the company to negotiate a national agreement covering redundancy and severance packages. 

Unite, the union that represents the 1,100 workers affected, has warned this week that deliveries to customers will be severely hit, once the strikes by the warehouse staff begin early in the morning of Tuesday, August 15, and running until early in the morning of Tuesday, September 5. 

The four sites at Basildon in Essex, Bridgwater in Somerset, Castleford (West Yorkshire) and Heywood (Greater Manchester), which are covered by the union, will also be joined in the strike by workers at the Barton Business Park warehouse in Burton-on-Trent, who wish to be covered by the forum. 

When Argos decided not to renew the lease on its Lutterworth distribution hub in Leicestershire, nearly 500 workers were then transferred to Wincanton Logistics in Kettering, Northamptonshire.  Following this decision – which is ultimately what led to the strike ballot - Unite is angry that Argos has failed to give guarantees to workers at all of its logistics sites that their future terms and conditions will be safeguarded. 

The union said it is worried about the intentions of Argos, which is now owned by supermarket giant Sainbury’s. 
Unite national officer for logistics and retail distribution Matt Draper said: “What we are faced with is the thin end of the wedge with Sainbury’s pulling the strings behind the scenes – and that the not-so-hidden agenda is serious cost-cutting to the detriment of our members.”


He added: “We want a comprehensive national agreement with the employer covering redundancy and severance packages, as well as our members at Barton being covered by such an agreement and to be allowed into the national forum, if they so wish, which is not the case at present. 

“These strikes will enormously affect deliveries to Argos customers as the firm works on ‘a just in time’ delivery policy. Even the smallest disruption or delay will adversely impact on the supply chain.”

Unite is calling on the Argos management to negotiate a new agreement “in a constructive manner and in good faith”, otherwise it warns that the industrial action that its members “overwhelmingly voted for”, will go ahead.” Mr Draper concluded: “Unite’s door for talks remains open 24/7.” 

There have been a series of earlier strikes at the sites prior to this latest threat and, in May, Argos lost a High Court bid to thwart a two-week continuous strike of 1,400 wareouse workers across distribution centres Basildon, Bridgwater, Burton-on-Trent, Castleford, Heywood and Lutterworth. 

The warehouse workers, who prepare deliveries for Argos stores, said they are fearful that a culture of contracting out and the reduction in operating sites will lead to a deterioration in their terms and conditions.

Speaking at the time, Unite’s Mr Draper said: “The retail giant would do well to start engaging constructively with Unite, rather than repeatedly trying to use the law to ride roughshod over workers’ legitimate concerns and prolonging disruptive industrial action.”



11 August 2017 08:02:07

yes I agree with last comment all they want is to cause massive disruption across the country its not bad when they get same money for been on strike as they get for working 

04 August 2017 18:04:35

UNITE never happier than when causing disruption, and having their members out on strike it seems to me.

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