Strikes to hit Rochdale Argos distribution centre

Deliveries to Argos stores across the country could be severely disrupted from today (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 union Unite comes as a high court judge yesterday threw out an application by Argos to stop the strike.

The strike involves members of Unite working for Argos at the retailer’s distribution centres in Heywood in Rochdale, as well as Burton-on-Trent, Basildon, Bridgwater and Lutterworth in Leceistershire.

Unite says 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. Unite says that despite repeated requests, Argos has refused to give guarantees at all its distribution sites that workers’ terms and conditions will be safeguarded in the future.

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.”