GMB Ballot On Strike Action At Marks & Spencer Swindon Distribution Depot Over Racist Abuse And Subsequent Sacking Of Two Abused Members
On Friday 12th December up to 100 angry members will protest outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon over this management action says GMB.
GMB is holding a consultative ballot on strike action for members employed at Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon over racist abuse of staff by a manager and the subsequent sacking from the site of two members, one of whom is a GMB shop steward.
In addition on Friday 12th December up to 100 GMB members will protest outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon on the issues.
On Monday 1st December, two GMB members of Indian heritage were approached by a white manager employed by Wincanton and falsely accused of talking instead of working. One of the manager said “I am going to teach you Indian bastards a lesson”. GMB members were then shut in a room, and then escorted from the site. They have since been permanently excluded i.e. sacked. One of the sacked and victimised staff is Mr Domingos Dias a GMB shop steward for the site.
The Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre is run by Wincanton on behalf of M&S but the majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton. There have been several GMB protests about how members are treated on site. See notes to editors for copies of recent GMB press releases.
The details of protest are as follows:
11:00 am to 12: 00 noon on Friday 12th December,
Marks and Spencer
81 Regent St,
Wiltshire SN1 1JY
GMB members will be holding banners saying “Marks and Spencer, we will not tolerate racism, we are not slaves” and “We Demand Respect at Work”.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional officer, said, “More than 80% of the staff, permanent and agency, on site are non-white, but of more than 40 Wincanton managers all but about 4 of them are white. Our members describe a management culture reminiscent of a Mississippi plantation.
Since May 2014 GMB has repeatedly advised the employers that members had been reporting racist and bullying behaviours by racist managers to the union. The union asked both Tempay Ltd and Wincanton what steps they could put in place to reassure members that they would not suffer detriment if they gave evidence. Neither employer responded to the union. However due to their precarious agency worker status, our members had felt too intimidated to raise formal grievances, as they feared they would lose work.
Mr Dias, one of the two sacked GMB members, did raise a grievance against discriminatory language and attitudes in September. The manager he specifically complained about is the one who abused him and sent him home.
I have never seen GMB members so angry. Many of them boycotted the Christmas lunch provided this week by Wincanton as a protest, and they are determined to fight these exclusions. GMB will not walk away from this fight. We demand that the exclusions are rescinded and that Wincanton and Marks and Spencer deals with its racist manager.”
Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Officer for Equality, said “GMB call on Marks and Spencer management to take racial abuse seriously and to discipline the supervisor responsible. I will be with GMB members on Friday protesting outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon over this racist abuse."
Contact: GMB Wiltshire branch secretary, Andy Newman on 0754 0859 227, or GMB Regional Organiser, Carole Vallelly on 07912 181476 or Kevin Brandstatter 07813 207374 or Chris Watts on 01793 818 005 or 07776 238 327 GMB Press Office 07921 289 880
Notes to editors
Copy of November GMB press release
GMB PROTESTS IN OUTSIDE M&S STORE SLOUGH TUE 19TH NOVEMBER AGAINST VICTORIAN WORKING CONDITIONS AT SWINDON DISTRIBUTION CENTRE
The way M&S is acting the letters M&S could stands for Marley and Scrooge over the mean spirited way these workers are being treated over the Christmas period says GMB
GMB members, employed by Tempay Ltd at a Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Swindon, will protest outside M&S’s store in High Street Slough on Tuesday 18th November over being required to work six days every week until January with only one day off in a 14 day period.
More than 150 formal grievances have been submitted to Tempay Ltd about the Christmas work rotas, from among their 500 staff on the site.
The Marks and Spencer distribution centre in Swindon is run by Wincanton. However most of the staff are employed by an employment agency, 24.7 Recruitment. They are then formally employed through a further company, called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton.
The details of the protest are as follows:
From 10.15 am on Tuesday 18th November
Outside Marks and Spencer,
147 High St,
Berkshire SL1 1DP
50 protesters mainly employed by Tempay Ltd, at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon will attend.
They will have a 3 metre banner reading “Marks and Spencer, ethical trading starts at home”. Some will be dressed in Victorian costumes as Marley and Scrooge, and will hand in a large placard saying “M&S Marley and Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, Victorian Working Conditions”.
GMB is also calling on Marks and Spencer to address the pay inequalities between workers carrying out the same work on their behalf. The loophole in the law which allows companies to pay staff doing the same job a different wage is under Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations – otherwise known as the Swedish derogation. But while the practice is legal, GMB members say it is unethical and runs against the Marks and Spencer ethos. See notes to editors for GMB press release on an earlier GMB protest on this.
Andy Newman, GMB branch secretary, said “Despite the arms-length relationship that Marks and Spencer chooses to have with these workers, this is an M&S warehouse, where M&S products are stored and dispatched to M&S stores, to be sold to M&S customers to make profits for M&S shareholders.
The way M&S is acting the letters M&S could stands for Marley and Scrooge, the mean spirited way these workers are being treated over the Christmas period. GMB members accuse M&S of getting the Ghost of Christmas Past to draw up these contracts with Victorian working conditions”
Our members are saying “Bah Humbug!” to M&S. We asked M&S to sort this out, and they failed to do so, which is why our members are protesting outside the store in Slough.
The difference between how the Wincanton and Tempay workers are being treated is a miserly attempt to push down wage costs over the Christmas period, that Scrooge would have been proud of.
Marks and Spencer claim to have an ethical supply chain when it comes to their overseas manufacturing suppliers. GMB is calling for them to take the same interest in ethical business much closer to home.”
copy of GMB August press release
GMB “ABBA” PROTEST ON 13TH AUGUST AT WINCANTON CHIPPENHAM OVER SWINDON AGENCY WORKERS UNDERPAID BY £2 PER HOUR BY USE OF SWEDISH DEROGATION
Words of Mamma Mia perfectly sum up their position with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end” says GMB
GMB members employed by employment agency Tempay in Swindon will mount an ABBA themed protest outside the headquarters of Wincanton Logistics in Chippenham on 13th August, at 10:00 am in a dispute over pay.
At a Swindon distribution depot in South Marston, operated by Wincanton on behalf of a household name retail giant, the majority of permanent warehouse staff by employed through an agency called Tempay. Many of these staff have been working at the same site on permanent assignment for several years, but using Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations these staff are guaranteed only 7 or 8 hours work per week, and are paid only minimum wage. This is nearly £2 per hour pay than the warehouse staff employed directly for Wincanton.
The details of the protest are as follows:
10am on Wednesday 13th August
Wiltshire SN14 0WT
GMB members will be dressed as ABBA, with Swedish flags and placards, and there will be a photo opportunity as a GMB “corporate ASBO” is handed into the Wincanton HQ , to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation. They will sing words of Mamma Mia which perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”.
GMB consider that Wincanton are unethically using Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) to avoid giving effect to Section 5, relating to equal pay. Since the Agency Workers Regulations came into force in 2011, agency workers are guaranteed no less favourable treatment for terms and conditions and working conditions after completing a qualifying period of 12 weeks. However, a legal loophole under section 10, also called the Swedish Derogation, allows employers to pay less, if they guarantee a small payment between assignments.
Andy Newman, Wiltshire GMB branch secretary, said “We have around 200 GMB members out of 280 permanent staff with contracts with Tempay. Our members complain of the arbitrary management regime where individuals can be sent home or called in at the whim of supervisors, and where any raising of legitimate health and safety or other issues can lead to hours being reduced to the contractual minimum”
GMB will be presenting a corporate ASBO to Wincanton, to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation.
Our members feel that the words of Mamma Mia perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”
GMB calls upon Tempay to pay our members the rate for the job, and for Tempay to go back to their client, Wincanton, and ask them to cease the unethical use of Section 10 of the AWR.”
Copy of GMB September press release
GMB Hold Further Protest At Wincanton Swindon Depot On Friday 26th September In Pay Dispute
A promised meeting with Wincanton over workers paid £2 per hour less has not taken place and GMB will not take this lying down.
GMB, the union for staff employed by agency Tempay at Wincanton distribution depot in Swindon, will hold further demonstration on Friday 26 September over the continued refusal of the company to meet the union in the dispute over pay.
200 GMB members at the depot are paid £2 per hour less pay than the warehouse staff employed directly for Wincanton. The depot is operated for a major UK retailer.
Many GMB members have been working at the same site on permanent assignment for several years employed by the agency. Under Section 10 of the Agency Workers Regulations ( called the Swedish derogation) Wincanton is able to guarantee these staff only 7 hours work per week, and pay them only minimum wage.
The details of the protest are as follows:
From 12 Midday on Friday 26th September
outside Wincanton depot,
South Marston Industrial Estate,
Wiltshire SN3 4TT
GMB members will be dressed as ABBA, with Swedish flags and placards, and a GMB “corporate ASBO” will be handed into the Wincanton distribution depot , to draw attention to the unethical use of the Swedish Derogation. They will sing words of Mamma Mia which perfectly sum up their situation with Wincanton –“I’ve been cheated by you since I don’t know when, So I made up my mind, it must come to an end”. The will be joined by popular Swindon Labour Councillor, Nadine Watts, dressed as Agnetha Fältskog; and by Devizes Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Watts.
Chris Watts, GMB Branch President, said “ A promised meeting with Wincanton has not taken place and GMB will not take this lying down.
Many members have told me that due to their Swedish Derogation contracts they can be working for 37.5 hours one week, and then the next week can be cut back to 7 hours. This leaves them feeling very precarious, and you can see how this would lead them to be reluctant to assert their rights".
GMB calls upon Tempay to pay our members the rate for the job, and for Tempay to go back to their client, Wincanton, and ask them to cease the unethical use of Section 10 of the AWR. It is time for Wincanton to pay up”.