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Unite takes legal action against Argos
James Hunter, Tyneside Socialist Party
On 23 August, Unite the Union announced legal action against Argos, now owned by the supermarket chain Sainsbury's, and employment agencies Single Resource and Templine. It materialised that they are attempting to break the workers' strikes by bringing in paid agency labour at Argos' central distribution centre at Barton business park in Burton-on-Trent.
Unite has accused Argos and those agencies of acting unlawfully.
Argos workers at Barton, along with colleagues at Castleford in Yorkshire, Basildon in Essex and Bridgwater in Somerset, are striking over Argos' failure to negotiate a fair national agreement concerning redundancy and severance packages. The action began on 15 August and ends on 5 September.
The legal claim cuts the first turf for a high court injunction if Argos and the agencies continue to violate regulations that are there to prevent the use of agency staff during industrial action and collusion in an unlawful manner.
Unite has urged Argos' management to engage constructively and positively in talks, rather than attempting to strike bust, and to lay out the basis for a deal concerning the lack of conditions that safeguard workers.
A victory is important to send a message to those in the distribution sector that workers will not be pushed around. And to ensure that distribution contractors are organised on the same terms and conditions as in-house staff, or brought back in-house.
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