A war of words has broken out between supermarket giant Asda and staff at a Wigan distribution centre which is in the process of shutting.
Upset employees claim they are unhappy with the redundancy packages being offered at the Marus Bridge warehouse which is gradually being closed with staff moving to a new depot in Warrington.
Workers claim some staff have not received equal redundancy packages to others doing similar jobs and the supermarket even sent out “threatening” letters telling people unwilling or unable to travel to Warrington every day that they would have to resign.
As many as 30 people at the warehouse on the Wheatlea Industrial Estate are thought to have taken voluntary redundancy and another dozen have left the company on a compulsory basis.
All the allegations made by staff have been strongly denied by Asda, which said the tone of the letters received by staff about the situation was not at all threatening.
One employee, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve been there 17 years and I’ve never known morale so bad. People are being treated differently in similar departments and one person who has been there decades is getting next to nothing.
“They just don’t want to pay anything. It’s like they’re shunting us off. The management is not speaking to the shop floor, they’re keeping us in the dark.
“It is a large warehouse in Wigan with a lot of jobs that people can just travel to easily. Obviously you can’t always do that but at this moment in time it feels like Asda is treating its Wigan workforce terribly.
“They’re taking all these jobs away and they’re not putting any transport on or doing anything for anybody. When you walk into Asda it’s all about looking after colleagues but behind closed doors it’s not at all like that.”
Another employee said: “Asda-Walmart has decided that only people with 21 years or above will be receiving redundancy but even they will not be receiving the full amount.
“Many people at the depot can’t drive, have family reasons or simply don’t want to be travelling 20 miles per day to work.
“Some people would have to change shifts and catch four buses a day and even then the nearest stop is a 15-minute walk from the new depot.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know what the future holds and are very worried.”
Staff began moving from Marus Bridge to Warrington in January but a date for the distribution centre to finally shut has not yet been announced.
Trade union GMB, which has been representing the workers during the process, was approached for comment but had not responded as we went to press.
Asda has strongly refuted the allegations made by employees at Marus Bridge and says it is willing to listen to any concerns.
A spokesman said: “We are disappointed to hear of concerns about the closure of our distribution centre in Marus Bridge.
“During this lengthy consultation we have been constantly talking with our colleagues, alongside our union partners at GMB, to find the right outcome for each individual colleague.
“Our main aim has always been job security. Our colleagues have all been offered roles at the new site, which is the first of its kind in Europe and is a huge investment in the North West.
“We continue to operate an open door policy and our management and union representatives are happy to discuss any questions.”