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Wednesday 25th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

GMB union slammed a “sweetheart deal” agreed between online fashion retailer Asos and union Community as a get-out-of-jail-free card for the bosses ahead of their appearance before a parliamentary committee today.

The Star saw a letter yesterday that had been sent to Asos warehouse workers in South Yorkshire. It told them that the firm had struck a deal so that they would be “automatically enrolled as a member of Community” on a six-month free membership. 

Asos explained in the letter: “We are aligned with Community’s approach as it reflects our own values and beliefs.”

Workers must speak to bosses if they wish to opt out. GMB, which led a two-year-long campaign at Asos backed by the TUC, accused the firm of stopping workers from joining a union of their choice.

It criticised Community officials as “bosses’ lackeys” seeking to poach members from GMB. 

Asos CEO Nick Beighton is set to appear before the Commons human rights committee.

GMB said the Community endorsement “gives Asos the cover they need” to pose as a reasonable and fair employer. GMB regional secretary Neil Derrick said workers at the Asos site are appalled by the company’s refusal to recognise the union.

And a source told the Star that bosses had approached a number of unions in an attempt to keep GMB out, including shop workers’ union Usdaw, which refused to sign a union recognition deal.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache branded the behaviour of Asos and Community officials “utterly disgraceful.”

He added: “GMB represents hundreds of Asos workers, we’ve been on the gates day in day out and have already forced the company to change some of its appalling employment practices.

“It’s been a high-profile campaign on the ground and in the press, exposing what’s wrong at Asos — I’m not surprised they want us to go away. Unfortunately for Asos that’s not how it works.

“Community has turned up for the first time today and is literally having to give away membership — that says it all,” Mr Roache continued.

“It’s workers, not their bosses, who choose their union — it’s called the right to freedom of association. We won’t be abandoning our members now, or ever.”

But Community spokesman said the union has been actively working in the sector and has a track record of driving up pay and standards.

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