Members of trade union Unite who work for logistics and supply organisation Wincanton and are based at Argos’ national distribution centre are to undertake strike action in a dispute over holiday back pay.
The drivers at Argos’ flagship national distribution centre in Staffordshire are to strike for 72-hours from 20 December 2016 after 83% of Unite members voted for strike action and 95% voted for industrial action short of a strike.
The dispute revolves around holiday back pay. Wincanton has changed the way in which this is calculated to include overtime for the first 20 days of annual leave each year.
The organisation has offered to provide backdated holiday pay from April 2016, however Unite and its members argue that holiday pay should be backdated to cover at least the last two years. This back pay would amount to approximately £700 per driver.
Rick Coyle, regional officer at Unite, said: “The drivers have patiently tried to resolve this matter for over two years. 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. Strike dates are only being announced as a last resort and Unite’s door is open 24/7 to try and settle this long-standing dispute.”
A spokesperson at Wincanton said: “We are disappointed with Unite’s announcement given that at Unite’s request we already have a meeting scheduled tomorrow morning with Acas to resolve the issue. This follows Wincanton’s announcement to change its holiday pay calculations to include overtime for the first 20 days of annual leave entitlement taken in each holiday year.
“The change to holiday pay applies to all employees who receive overtime payments and therefore exceeds Wincanton’s obligations in line with recent holiday pay rulings and statutory guidance. We are committed to ongoing dialogue with Unite. No other Wincanton operations are affected.”
An Argos spokesperson said: “We would like to reassure our customers that we have a robust contingency plan in place and all Argos deliveries will continue as normal this Christmas.”