A DISPUTE between more than 400 Lutterworth-based drivers and retail giant Argos has sparked industrial strike action.
Last month, Argos announced plans to transfer 96 drivers based at Magna Park to “controversial” haulier Eddie Stobart Ltd by Sunday June 12. The proposed moved has sparked anger from the entire 420-strong workforce at the Lutterworth site who are set to strike twice in the coming weeks.
Unite, the country’s largest union, has called on Argos to reconsider the decision, claiming the move would threaten workers’ pay, employment conditions and job security.
The union said Eddie Stobart was “a poor employer with a hostile attitude towards its workers” and highlighted a similar case, when 87 Coventry-based Co-op drivers opted for severance packages rather than work for the company.
Unite members voted 75 per cent in favour of strike action, and 80 per cent for industrial action short of a strike, in a bid to remain employees of Argos.
Warehouse and admin staff will strike alongside the drivers for six days starting on Tuesday June 7 and ending on the day of Argos’ decision on June 12.
Unite regional coordinating officer Paresh Patel said: “The strength of the mandate for industrial action reinforces our members’ clearly stated desire to remain employed by Argos.
“The management can avoid this action by rescinding the decision to outsource the drivers to Eddie Stobart, which has a bad reputation in terms of employee relations.
Unite say if Argos persists in their hard line against the drivers, the strikes will be demanding two things – a good severance package should they wish not to work for Eddie Stobart, and protected pay and employment for at least three years for drivers who do agree to transfer.
Mr Patel added: “We want Argos management to engage with Unite well in advance in the future, should they be considering similar plans for the rest of the workforce.
“If the bosses had come to Unite in the first place, we could have put forward counter-proposals that may have averted this strike action.
“Unite’s door remains open for talks and even at this eleventh hour we urge Argos to get around the table for talks for the sake of its employees, its customers and its reputation as an employer.”
An Argos spokeswoman said contingency plans were in place to ensure the strike would not affect customers.