Socialist Worker

Argos workers strike to defend conditions

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2555

Argos warehouse workers on the picket line

Argos warehouse workers on the picket line (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Argos warehouse workers defied bosses’ legal threats to begin a two-week walkout at five depots across England last Wednesday.

The Unite union members are fighting the threat of a “culture of outsourcing”.

Steve is the Unite union convenor at the Basildon warehouse in Essex. He told Socialist Worker, “We have got solid support with around 90 percent of members out here, and it’s similar at the other sites.”

The union is demanding that bosses guarantee workers’ terms, conditions and union rights if they are outsourced. Argos bosses are trying to transfer up to 400 workers from their Lutterworth warehouse to subcontractor Wincanton Logistics in Kettering.

There is a danger bosses could push this attack through across the company.

Worried

As a first-time striker told Socialist Worker, “We’re obviously worried that it could happen to our site.

“I joined the union after the last dispute two years ago because of things like this.”

Workers said that their terms and conditions had already been eroded over the years.

As another rep told Socialist Worker, “I’ve worked here for 21 years and the conditions have got worse over the years.

“They’re changing things to make us do more, moving us about to do different jobs because we’re all multi-skilled.”

Now workers worry that their rights could be eroded more through outsourcing.

Solid support among the workers is one of the reasons bosses tried to block their action.

The company “felt” the ballot was illegal, but declined to provide in writing to the union of what their claim was.

As bosses seek to take another legal challenge this week, trade unionists need to build solidarity for their fight.

Send messages of support to mark.barter@unitetheunion.org

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.