Unite members strike at Bridgwater Argos distribution centre

Bridgwater Mercury: Photo: submitted. Photo: submitted.

CROWDS of workers who took part in a 24-hour strike at Bridgwater’s Argos distribution centre are threatening further action.

Picketers in Bridgwater were taking part in a national strike from the early hours of June 17, organised by Unite the union, over changes to their contracts.

Union members are currently assessing an offer from Home Retail Group, which sells products under Argos and Homebase, but say if it is rejected there could be further strike action.

An Argos operative, who did not wish to be named, told the Mercury: “The strike was over contractual changes and terms and conditions.

“We had a lot of support from Unite members and the strike was very successful.

“Within a day, the management arranged for a national meeting and discussions are still underway.

“There’s a ballot going around at the moment on whether to accept an offer. If the offer is rejected, we will strike again on Friday, July 4, until this is resolved.”

Another picketer, who also did not want to be named, said Unite members had support from Homebase employees who deliver goods to the Argos distribution centre, which they use as a hub.

He added: “They would normally clock in early but they refused to cross the Unite picket line. This resulted with agency workers cars double parked and blocking lorries coming into the depot.

“This display of solidarity by agency workers who, even if they are Unite members, were legally not included in the strike ballot, was a tremendous boost to the Unite pickets at the very end of their 24-hour strike.”

Union members also went on strike in 2012 over Argos closing its Group Final Salary Pension Scheme in favour of one linked to share prices and profits.

A spokesman for Home Retail Group said Argos has a five-year transformation plan to become a digital retail leader, which involves creating 350 new permanent Distribution jobs.

He added: “We have also proposed changes to our Distribution employees’ terms and conditions and have been engaging colleagues to introduce them. 98 % of our Distribution colleagues have already accepted the changes to their contract, and we are working hard to understand and address any outstanding queries or issues.

“We believe the proposed changes represent the best outcome for the security of our colleagues and Argos alike. As such, we are now asking colleagues to accept the changes to their contract in order to help us realise our transformation plan.”

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