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Christmas ‘havoc’

Argos strike: gifts deliveries at risk
Shaun Noble, Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

The delivery of Christmas gifts from Argos, such as iPhones, could be seriously disrupted as drivers are set to strike for 72 hours over the failure to honour holiday back pay, Unite warned today (December 13).



The drivers work for Wincanton based at Argos’ flagship national distribution centre (NDC) at Barton-under-Needwood, near Burton on Trent, in Staffordshire will strike for three days from just past midnight on Tuesday, December 20.



The drivers voted by 83 per cent to strike and by 95 per cent for industrial action short of a strike over Wincanton’s failure to honour holiday back pay for at least the last two years. Each driver is owed an average of about £700.



The reason that the Staffordshire site is so critical is that it supplies the other seven Argos NDCs across the UK which, in turn, deliver to the Argos shops – Unite said that a strike would have a knock-on effect causing ‘havoc and mayhem’ to deliveries in the crucial days running up to Christmas.



The dispute with Wincanton centres on how holiday pay is calculated. Legal cases have established that overtime and extra shift payments should be taken into account when assessing holiday pay.



The management has offered to backdate the holiday pay from April this year, while Unite says the pay should cover at least the last two years, hence the estimated £700 owed to individual drivers.



In a separate dispute, Wincanton drivers working at the Argos centre in Basildon in Essex are voting on whether to take industrial action over a disciplinary system relating to ‘uncontrolled vehicle movements’. This ballot result is due on Friday (December 16).



“The drivers have patiently tried to resolve this matter for over two years,” said Unite regional officer Rick Coyle. “Now they would like the money they are owed in time for Christmas, which is not unreasonable.

“It is very difficult to understand why Wincanton has allowed this saga to get out of hand because this strike by our members will cause havoc and mayhem to deliveries to Argos shops in the run-up to Christmas,” he added.



“There will be a lot of very unhappy Argos customers, if they don’t receive the iPhones, TVs and ‘white’ goods that they have ordered as presents for relatives this Christmas.



“We can assure Argos customers that strike dates are only being announced as a last resort and that Unite’s door is open 24/7 to try and settle this long-standing dispute.”




Coyle confirmed that Unite is holding talks with the Wincanton management tomorrow (December 14) in a bid to settle the dispute over driver holiday back pay at the Argos national distribution centre at Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire.


“The talks will be held under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, starting at 9am,” he said.


“For more than two years Unite has tried to solve this dispute and tomorrow we will continue to strain every sinew to achieve that goal. However, until there is a satisfactory settlement, the 72 hour strike due to start at just past midnight on Tuesday (December 20) is still scheduled to go-ahead.”


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