STAFF at Aldi and Lidl supermarkets are “scared” they will be sacked for joining a trade union, Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said yesterday.
Mr Hannett named and shamed the budget shopping giants for refusing to recognise the union, which represents thousands of staff at other supermarket chains.
He reported that workers who have covertly joined the union are “fearful” of being found out by bosses.
“Despite joining up, they say: ‘Please, don’t let my employer know that I’m a member of a trade union’,” he told delegates at Usdaw’s Blackpool conference.
“Not because they’re cowards or weak, but because they’re fearful, even in 2015, to become a member of a trade union. They’re scared to identify themselves.”
The two German-owned companies now employ around 24,000 people at 1,100 stores across Britain.
Both have refused to even talk to Usdaw about a recognition deal, which would allow reps to organise in stores and represent staff in negotiations with bosses.
Mr Hannett revealed: “I received two letters in the last fortnight from two major employers, Aldi and Lidl.
“They said effectively: ‘Never, never, never, ever will we recognise Usdaw’.”
Usdaw has hit back by starting a grassroots drive to recruit staff at the firms.
Union activists staged a campaign day outside Aldi and Lidl stores across Britain on April 10, waiting in car parks to speak to staff who had just finished work.
When one manager found an Usdaw leaflet, it was pinned to a notice board with a note warning workers not to speak to union activists, according to a union source.
The union has now added a note to membership application form saying: “Your details will NOT be passed on to your employers.”
Mr Hannett said the union was “determined” to win statutory recognition, but warned it would take time to reach the required 10 per cent membership threshold.
Aldi policy states that it respects “the right of all personnel to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively.”
Lidl says it provides representation through its “personnel and welfare co-ordinators” and staff hotline.