DHL and Wincanton, as well as two staffing agencies, are facing legal action by the GMB union over agency worker pay at the Marks & Spencer distribution centre at South Marston near Swindon.
The union has started legal proceedings against DHL, Wincanton, 24-7 Recruitment Services, and Tempay Ltd. DHL took over the running of the site from Wincanton in January.
The union alleges that 240 of its members employed by Tempay Ltd are employed on the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. Directly employed DHL workers doing exactly the same work, are paid up to £2 per hour higher than Tempay staff, it says.
The Agency Worker Regulations, which came into effect in 2011, guarantee equal pay for agency workers after a qualifying period of 12 weeks.
But under the “Swedish Derogation” a temporary work agency can offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the worker between assignments. It has to be made clear to the worker that entering into the contract means giving up the entitlement to equal pay.
Carole Vallelly, GMB regional organiser, said: “On examination of the specific contracts of employment of our members used on this M&S site, we believe that the terms of these contracts seeking to avoid equal pay are unenforceable.”
A DHL spokesperson said: “As the matter is now subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”