Strikes by Wincanton warehouse workers at B&Q’s Worksop nationwide distribution centre could leave DIYers hoping for power tool presents seriously disappointed. Wincanton’s hard line on ‘poverty pay’ will mean the drills to ‘B&Q it’ won’t arrive by 25 December.
450 Wincanton staff, who make-up the vast majority of the warehouse’s workforce, are striking over pay rates as low as £9.96 an hour. Pay is so low at the warehouse that last year the local Unite branch was forced to set up a hardship fund, providing emergency grants and zero per cent interest loans, to help struggling staff. Many Unite members have had to access food banks because they can’t make ends meet on their poverty pay rates.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “During 2020, Wincanton made profits of £47.2 million. At the same time B&Q’s parent company, Kingfisher, raked in £660 million of profits – most of which was made by B&Q.
“Yet our members are struggling on wages way below the UK’s average pay of £27,000,” she added. “Unite’s top priority is the jobs, pay and conditions of our members and we will give unwavering support to our Wincanton members to rectify this blatant poverty pay injustice.”
On 28 November, the workers began two weekly cycles of a seven-day overtime ban, followed by seven days of all-out strike action, which will continue until February 20. After an overtime ban this week, workers will begin another week of strikes on Monday (December 13).
Since the industrial action started, another 70 Wincanton workers have joined Unite. This leaves the Worksop warehouse, which stores power tools and general DIY merchandise, running on a skeleton staff when strikes occur.
Unite regional officer Garry Guye said, “We know that the strikes are causing B&Q supply chain problems, meaning that power tool gifts may not be available in time for Christmas. Unite urges B&Q to compel Wincanton to table an offer that is acceptable to our members, otherwise this dispute and the consequent disruption, will continue across Christmas and into 2022.”
By Ryan Fletcher