Manchester Argos staff join national 24-hour strike in protest over shift patterns that ‘ruin work/life balance’

Manchester Argos warehouse staff are joining a national 24-hour strike tomorrow in a dispute over shift patterns that they claim will ruin their ‘work/life’ balance.

Approximately 1,000 warehouse staff employed by Argos are set to walk out across the country tomorrow at around 6.30am in a national strike.

Members of the country’s largest union, Unite, are threatening disruption to deliveries from five Argos warehouses across the UK including Greater Manchester’s Heywood warehouse.

Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “The crux to the dispute is Argos’ determination to push through a new 24/7 shift pattern, without offering our members a decent compensation package to offset the severe disruption to their personal and family lives at weekends.

“In many cases, it is going to cause havoc with childcare arrangements and mean spouses and partners will see much less of each other.  The company’s plans will seriously undermine the ‘work/life’ balance.”

Mr Draper explained how some members already work weekends, as already agreed with Unite. However they fear the new proposals will impact a lot more on their family life.

“The management has offered a one-off payment of £2,400, which, quite frankly, is woefully inadequate given the massive changes in shift patterns that are being proposed,” said Mr Draper.

“The proposals also include a new measuring system for their work which, we believe, could be used as a tool to dismiss workers.” 

However Argos have defended the proposals, claiming that the changes represent the best way forward for both them and their staff as part of a company-wide ‘transformation plan’.

Speaking to MM, Argos Assistant PR Manager Lou Hedges said that the company are engaging with the distribution employees’ over the terms and conditions proposed changes.

Ms Hedges told MM: “We believe the proposed changes represent the best outcome for the security of our colleagues and Argos alike.

“As such, we are now asking colleagues to accept the changes to their contract in order to help us realise our transformation plan.

“99.8 per cent of our Distribution colleagues have already accepted the changes to their contract and we are working hard to understand and address any outstanding queries or issues.

“We have been advised of the strike and have contingency plans in place to ensure a normal service for our customers.”

Unite have urged Argos to return to the negotiating table and relax the new criteria in the hope that an agreement can be reached.

Argos workers have previously staged a 24-hour strike on June 15 against these plans.

Image courtesy of Bob Walker, with thanks.

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