THE GMB trade union yesterday won its first victory in the battle over trade union rights at Asda, on the eve of a five-day strike due to begin this Friday.
The union called off a ‘coach and horses’ protest outside a private employment agency in Dartford, Kent, after receiving assurances that the agency would not supply drivers to break the strike.
Jeff Goswell, GMB Southern Region senior officer, said: ‘This morning I received a phone call from Mr Vince Riddell from Protem HGV Limited, who are currently supplying drivers to Asda Wal-Mart’s Erith and Dartford depots.
‘I asked Mr Riddell for a written undertaking that the Protem drivers would not cross the picket line.
‘I am pleased to be able to report to our members at Erith and Dartford that we have received a written undertaking from Protem HGV Limited, which we have accepted.
‘As a result of this, the demonstration planned for 1.00pm today has been called off. GMB shop stewards at Erith and Dartford will now seek to ensure that this undertaking is honoured.’
An earlier demonstration went ahead outside an agency in Charlton, south-east London (pictured above).
The GMB has written to 67 agencies across the country, warning them of the ‘severe penalties’ if they break the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003.
The regulations came into force in April 2004.
‘In effect, Asda Wal-Mart is attempting to drive a coach and horses through the 2004 law,’ the GMB said.
GMB members at 20 Asda distribution depots voted by a majority of 3-1 to strike and action is due to begin at midnight on Friday, ending at midnight on July 4.
The union said its members had reported agencies ‘pre-loading staff into the depots . . . and that trailers have been pre-loaded and moved to third party locations’.