Unite the union said it was meeting the management of Gist today (June 30) to negotiate a pay deal for 20 of the firm’s workers, under the auspices of the dispute resolution organisation the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
The dispute centres on 20 pickers and loaders earning about £22,000-a-year under a local agreement, while about 280 workers under national terms and conditions earn about £30,000 for doing the same work.
Constructive frame of mind
Unite regional officer Alan Brkljac said the union was entering the talks with a constructive frame of mind.
“As a result of these talks, [today’s] 24-hour strike by about 20 of our members has been suspended,” he said. “However, we have 11 more 24-hour strikes planned, if we can’t reach a satisfactory agreement.
“Gist has the contract to supply M&S stores nationally and any strike action would cause disruption to more than 100 M&S stores in London and the south east at weekends.”
‘Disruption to more than 100 M&S stores’
The other strikes at the Three Cherry Trees site are scheduled for July 7, 14, 22, and 28; August 4, 11, 18, and 25; and September 1, 8 and 15. Unite members voted unanimously for strike action.
Speaking as the strikes were announced last week, an M&S spokeswoman said stores would continue to operate as normal if strikes went ahead.
“We are working closely with our supplier on this. We have contingency plans in place and, if the strike goes ahead, our Hemel Hempstead distribution centre will continue to operate, and deliveries to stores will continue as usual.”