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Thursday 24th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Unite accuses catalogue firm of using agency staff to break lawful strike

RETAIL giant Argos faces legal action over its attempts to use agency workers as strikebreakers, the Unite union announced yesterday.

As well as the catalogue retailer — now owned by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s — Unite is also taking two employment agencies, Resource and Templine, to court for supplying staff to cover for striking workers at the Argos central distribution centre in Burton on Trent.

Unite issued letters of claim to Argos, Resource and Templine and is seeking a high-court injunction to stop the supply of strike-breaking labour, which the union argues is illegal.

More than 1,100 Unite members have withdrawn their labour in Burton, along with others in Essex, Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

They are in the second week of a three-week strike over Argos’s failure to negotiate a national agreement covering redundancy and severance packages.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite has evidence that Argos, Single Resource and Templine have been involved in what we believe is the illegal use of agency staff to break lawful industrial action.

“As part of our legal action, we will be seeking full disclosure from Argos and the two employment agencies of any information relating to the use of agency workers during the strike.

“Argos bosses should be under no illusion. Unite will pursue the matter through to the High Court if they and the two employment agencies involved continue to collude and act in what we understand to be an unlawful manner.

“Unite will not tolerate strike-busting and would urge Argos to focus its attentions on ending the strike, rather than failed attempts at trying to break the strike.”

Unite national officer Matt Draper added: “Argos bosses need to stop exploiting agency workers to break this strike and wake up to the determination of our members.

“Argos’s crude attempts to undermine lawful industrial action will only serve to stiffen the resolve of our members and prolong the disruption that strike action brings.

“We would urge management to engage constructively and positively in talks and hammer out an agreement that deals with our members’ concerns.”

Talks are set to take place with conciliation service Acas today.

Argos had not responded to the Star’s request for comment at the time of going to print.