ARGOS warehouse staff at Magna Park have gone on strike, unhappy with new terms and conditions which demand they work more at the weekend.
About 400 workers at the company’s national distribution centre have spent the week on the picket lines as part of a national walkout, causing delays to deliveries in the run-up to the publication of the new catalogue.
They claim bosses are determined to push through a new 24/7 shift pattern without offering staff sufficient compensation, or offering flexibility that would allow for a better work/life balance.
The strike began on Saturday at the company’s distribution centres at Magna Park, and in Basildon, Bridgwater, Castleford and Heywood, and will finish this Saturday.
The Magna Park centre employs up to 1,200 people during its busiest periods and dispatches almost 30million items every year.
Matt Draper, of Unite, the union which represents Argos warehouse staff, told us: “It is going to cause havoc with childcare arrangements and mean spouses and partners will see much less of each other.
“Some of our members already work weekends, but that was agreed with Unite. The new proposals impact much more on family life.”
Mr Draper disputed Argos’ contention the industrial action was undermined by the majority of workers signing the new contracts and urged the management to return to the negotiating table and relax the new criteria.
He said: “The reason our members felt pressurised to sign these contracts is that they would have lost the unsatisfactory one-off payment of £2,000 to sacrifice their family life for many years to come.
“And if they continued to refuse to sign the contracts, they faced being sacked. They had the metaphorical gun put to their heads to sign.”
An Argos spokesman said talks with Unite had been taking place since last November about the company’s need to alter what ‘outdated’ working hours.
“Argos has put in place thorough contingency plans to ensure a normal service for our customers during a forthcoming warehouse colleague strike.
“The strike relates to terms and conditions changes, which are necessary to match our services to customers’ shopping preferences. Around 75 per cent of our total distribution workforce, including our drivers, are not striking.
“New shift patterns have been developed in partnership with our Unite employee representatives, with a focus on maintaining our colleagues’ work/life balance.
“As 100 per cent of colleagues are on accepted terms and conditions we are now working hard to understand any outstanding issues.”