Staff payouts signal end of an Asda era

Workers at a supermarket distribution centre have received redundancy payments in a dramatic end to a long-running industrial dispute.

Thursday, 16th June 2016, 7:00 am
Exterior of Asda distribution centre at Wheatlea Industrial Estate, Marus Bridge

Employees at the now-closed Asda depot in Marus Bridge have settled with the company after months of wrangling over the terms of their departure from the firm.

More than a dozen of the 22 remaining employees are believed to have received a full package including severance pay and notice on June 10, their final day working at the Wheatlea Industrial Estate site.

Other staff decided they would move to a new super-depot at Warrington, despite originally not wanting to travel so far every day, and a couple of others are believed to have left the company before the terms were agreed.

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Employees who have spoken out about the long-running dispute between management and the shop floor hailed the intervention of Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, whose constituency office staff have been scrutinising the contracts and offering advice.

One worker who received the redundancy package, who asked not to be named, said: “About 13 of us have got everything we’re entitled to so it’s about as good as we could have expected.

“The last week was just unbelievable, there was so much pressure on us. There was just no need for it, the company just couldn’t seem to accept people couldn’t get to Warrington.

“Most people have said they are grateful to Lisa Nandy, they believe we’ve got this because of her involvement. Staff from her office were ringing us every day telling us where they were up to, so they deserve a big shout out.

“For me this means I can look for a proper job and take my time, rather than being forced into an agency.”

The gradual closure of the depot as staff have moved to the larger new facility in Warrington has been marked by disputes between staff, the union GMB which has represented them and Asda-Walmart bosses.

Ms Nandy got involved after employees claimed they were summoned to a meeting and told they would get nothing if they did not move to the Cheshire site.

Following the decison to award the redundancy packages, Ms Nandy said: “This is welcome news that will come as a real relief to people who have been faced with uncertainty for the last 18 months.”

GMB has represented Asda-Walmart staff since it negotiated to keep distribution jobs in the North West rather than see them move to Staffordshire.

An Asda spokesman said: “Throughout the last 18 months, alongside our partners in the GMB, we have been listening and communicating with our colleagues. Our main aim has always been to find the best possible outcome for each individual.”