Fury over depot closure deal

Angry supermarket depot staff are claiming they have been told to transfer to a new centre around 15 miles away or leave with nothing.

Saturday, 28th May 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 11:43 am
Exterior of Asda distribution centre at Wheatlea Industrial Estate, Marus Bridge

The last group of staff remaining at Asda’s distribution centre at Marus Bridge are believed to be locked in dispute with the retail giant’s bosses over their departure from the company.

One employee, who asked not to be identified, said around 20 staff on three shifts were summoned to a meeting recently and abruptly told they would have to travel to a new super-depot at Warrington from June 10 or they would leave the company with nothing.

The staff member said this has caused deep anger with many workers who have been there for more than a decade feeling they were being swept aside.

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The employee said: “We were basically told we would have to go Warrington or leave with absolutely nothing. We’re all up in arms about it.

“We feel like we are being pushed aside and told to be quiet. It feels like we haven’t got much of a chance.

“Some people just can’t go to Warrington because they’ve got family commitments or don’t drive.

“They would have to catch a bus to Wigan and then get another to Warrington, it would add two hours to their working day.”

The dispute marks the latest stage in a long industrial dispute between staff at Marus Bridge and Asda which union GMB has attempted to mediate.

The employee also contacted the constituency office of Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who has expressed concern about the situation at the Wheatlea Industrial Estate depot after staff looked at his contract.

Ms Nandy said: “Asda are obliged to honour employment law and ensure redundancy pay is paid to employees who have worked for the company for well over a decade.

“My office is working with some of my constituents who have been affected by this dispute and the GMB trade union to ensure Asda respects its obligations.”

The employee has also raised concerns about GMB’s role in the negotiations, saying many workers were concerned the body could not properly represent them when it was described in official communications as working in partnership with Asda.

He claimed staff had been told to wait and see if negotiations could secure them a package before the final date.

The supermarket giant has responded to criticism around the depot’s closure by promising to work to find the best solution for as many staff as possible.

An Asda spokesman said: “We continue to listen to our colleagues alongside our union partners at the GMB to find the right outcome for each individual colleague.

“Any colleague who has any concerns about relocating because of travel or other personal circumstances should discuss with management and union representatives so we can look at what options are available. Job security remains our main aim.”

The GMB was approached for comment but had not responded as we went to press.