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Argos transport bosses deny ‘Scooge’ claims

By Mike Stones , 21-Dec-2012
Last updated the 21-Dec-2012 at 12:20 GMT

Transport bosses at retailer Argos have denied claims from Unite the union that they are being “mean-spirited” in scrapping two bottles of Christmas wine for staff in a dispute about work–life balance.

The union described bosses at the Bridgewater distribution centre in Somerset as “tight-fisted” after they allegedly withheld a seasonal gift to employees. The decision followed a vote by workers to take three-days of strike action after the imposition of new shift patterns without consultation.

About 200 workers – who are members of Unite – will hold three one-day strikes at the Bridgwater retail park distribution centre on Sunday, December 23, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

‘Scrooge is alive and well’

Unite regional officer, Dorothy Fogg said: ““The spirit of Scrooge is alive and well in the West Country. We urge the management to get back around the table to negotiate a fair shift pattern for staff to give them a proper work–life balance.”

Fogg added that the strikes were in protest at the newly imposed shift patterns, which were radically changed with little or no consultation with staff.

“Many staff members have had to reduce their working hours, so that they can care for their children or family members, because Argos would no longer accommodate their flexible working requests. In some cases, these arrangements had been previously agreed and now they have been stopped.”

‘More inclusive for all’

Butan Argos spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We refute the claim that Argos bosses are being ‘mean-spirited’. On the contrary, and in the spirit of Christmas, all colleagues are invited to join together for a Christmas lunch this year, which we feel is more inclusive for all.”

Fogg said once the warehouse’s senior management at Bridgwater heard about the strikes, they cancelled the traditional bottles of wine for each employee.

Last year, the allowance had been raised to two bottles in return for staff reducing their Christmas lunch from 45 minutes to the normal 30 minutes.

“I think many people in Somerset will agree that you would have to search far and wide to find a meaner more tight-fisted management, intent on clawing back the bottles of wine from a hard-working and dedicated workforce,” said Fogg.

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