The planned strike action by more than 2,000 Morrisons distribution workers has been called off after an agreement was reached with unions yesterday (September 28, 2005). The GMB and TGWU had called for a three-day strike action, which was due to start tomorrow on September 30, 2005 in response to Morrisons’ plans to close three of its distribution depots.
Discussions centred on the unions’ desire for joint national bargaining and the company’s need to reduce its distribution capacity. Although few specifics have been released about what was said in the meeting, Jude Brimble, GMB National Officer for wholesale distribution comments: “The strike threat forced Morrisons to put their plans on the table and to concede national bargaining. We are now in the midst of serious talks about what looks like a very large redundancy. We are exploring all avenues to mitigate the job losses including transfers, selling depots as going concerns and an enhanced redundancy package.”
A spokesman for Morrisons comments: “The issue with the over-capacity is ongoing and we are in consultation with the unions. We’ve reached a conclusion and hope to move things on amicably. We are looking forward to the future talks.”
The GMB had balloted its members for strike action in protest at the company’s refusal to discuss the problems nationally. The members voted for industrial action and Morrisons conceded national bargaining last week, which led to the threatened three-day strike action proposed at first from September 23, 2005 being postponed a week.
Fresh talks took place yesterday which resulted in enough progress for the unions to call off the threatened strikes.
The over-capacity problems occurred after Morrisons sold its convenience stores as well as 50 large stores. Depots were in place to supply goods to a total of 600 stores. It now only needs operations to cater for 400 so it planned to close three depots at Aylesford, Bristol and Warrington.
By law Morrisons must consult the unions for a 90-day period to take all possible measures to avoid job losses. The 90-day period starts on October 10, 2005, when continuing talks will be held.