Argos customers face Christmas chaos as UPS staff vote for festive strikes

ARGOS customers could face more than a fortnight of disruption over Christmas after staff at one of the retailer's distribution centres voted to strike in a long-running pay row.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 3:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 4:23 pm

UPS workers at Argos's distribution site in Barton, Staffordshire, voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action after a 10-month dispute over pay, the Unite union said.

Shunter and HGV drivers at the site have agreed to stage 16 days of strike action from December 16 after the union said a pay claim from March had been ‘continually disregarded’.

Unite, Britain and Ireland's largest union, said its members have been ‘treated with contempt’ in the dispute, and those working on the site voted 90 per cent in favour of a strike, which will start at 6pm on December 16 and run until 5.59pm on December 31.

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UPS said it will put contingency plans in place to ‘minimise disruption’ but is hopeful that an agreement can be reached with frustrated staff.

Unite said its members have been waiting for an offer from delivery giant UPS in response to their pay claim since March.

It also claimed that ‘members only received an offer of a voucher scheme that was so devoid of details that it could not be put to a ballot’.

The union warned that the strike action will cause ‘severe disruption’ to Argos and ‘effectively grind work to a halt’ at one of the busiest periods of the year for the retailer.

Barton is the main distribution site for electrical items from Argos, including smart phones, laptops and televisions, before they are sent to the company's regional warehouses.

Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: ‘Our members do not want to cause disruption for Argos customers over the Christmas period, but they have been left with no choice but to strike.

‘The treatment of these Barton workers has been disgraceful. The reputations of UPS and Argos are at risk during the peak Christmas period because of this refusal to meaningfully engage with the pay claim.

‘It is now up to UPS to ensure this dispute does not extend right across the busiest time of the year for Argos by tabling a sensible offer that our members can actually vote on.’

A UPS spokeswoman said: ‘We are aware that the Unite union intends to call industrial action for UPS staff servicing the Argos facility in Barton, Staffordshire.

‘Operational contingency plans will be put in place to minimise disruption for our customers should labour action go ahead.

‘Discussions with Unite are ongoing and we remain hopeful that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. Please understand that these discussions are ongoing and we will not discuss any details in public.’

Argos has been contacted for comment by PA.