Festive shoppers could find themselves in a tight spot as a key Argos delivery firm prepares to strike for two and a half weeks over Christmas.
Following a ten month long pay dispute UPS staff in Barton, Staffordshire have decided to strike.
On December 16 HGV and shunter drivers employed by UPS at Argos’ flagship distribution centre will form a picket line, Birmingham Live reported.
If an agreement over pay is not agreed, they will strike until December 31.
The knock on effect for Christmas shoppers across the country could be significant.
The Barton site is a critical hub of Argos’ national network from which smart phones, laptops and televisions are shipped to regional Argos distribution centres for delivery to stores.
Unite warned that without the shunter and HGV drivers to manoeuvre loads on and off the centre, work at the site would effectively grind to a halt, causing severe disruption to the Sainsbury’s owned chain.
Rick Coyle, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite has been waiting for an offer in response to our members pay claim since March. Drivers and shunters have been treated with contempt and have had enough.
“UPS is claiming that it has engaged with the pay claim. In reality, our members only received an offer of a voucher scheme that was so devoid of details that it could not be put to a ballot.
“Our members do not want to cause disruption for Argos customers over the Christmas period, but they have been left with no choice but to strike.
“The treatment of these Barton workers has been disgraceful. The reputations of UPS and Argos are at risk during the peak Christmas period because of this refusal to meaningfully engage with the pay claim.
“It is now up to UPS to ensure this dispute does not extend right across the busiest time of the year for Argos by tabling a sensible offer that our members can actually vote on.”
The industrial action comes after a pay claim submitted in March by Unite on behalf of the workers was disregarded.
Unite members nine to one in favour of strike action.
According to the union Argos spent months arguing that the March pay claim could not be lodged because the workers were midway through a previously agreed two year pay deal.
The retailer later conceded that the deal was valid, Unite claimed.
An Argos spokesperson said: “We have plans in place to maintain continuity of supply.”