The GMB trade union yesterday confirmed it has accepted an agreement offered by Wal-Mart owned Asda supermarkets and called off a planned five-day national strike at Asda’s 20 distribution depots.
This came after GMB Shop Stewards from the Asda distribution depots met in London to consider the outcome of the talks hosted by the TUC between Asda Chief Executive Andy Bond and GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny.
Kenny, said: ‘This new agreement which GMB and Asda Wal-Mart have worked very hard to achieve heralds a new fresh approach to representation and bargaining between the company and GMB.
‘It is the clear intention of this new agreement that issues beneficial to the growth of the company and the economic benefit of its employees will be dealt with through the new National Joint Council.’
The following proposals were agreed:
• a new Distribution National Joint Council is to be established to deal with a range of issues of mutual concern and interest in relation to Asda’s distribution depots;
• meetings of the company and the union will take place at the most senior level at least twice a year jointly to review major strategic issues facing the company;
• negotiations at local level will take place on the modernisation of the existing collective bargaining agreements in nine Asda depots with the NJC exercising an overview;
• the GMB will henceforth be given access to all ASDA distribution sites (current and future), with facilities for appropriate levels of union workplace representatives, facilities to distribute union literature, recruit into the union, present the union case during company induction procedures, run union election procedures for workplace reps and within the new NJC etc; the details of all these arrangements need to be agreed.
In relation to two sites in which Asda/GMB Partnership Agreements currently operate (Chepstow and Erith), the company has agreed to negotiate with the GMB through the NJC as a first priority on a model collective bargaining agreement for these and potentially other sites.
The joint intention is to complete this work within three months.
Implementation of this agreement in each of those two sites will require support from 50 per cent or more of those voting in a ballot of all colleagues in the agreed bargaining unit at each site, to be triggered by the GMB at an appropriate time.