Asda’s HR chief David Smith braved the bear pit that was the GMB conference last week after accepting an invite from the union’s general-secretary.
GMB leader Paul Kenny invited people director Smith to attend the GMB’s annual conference in Plymouth to meet delegates.
The union has fought a long and often bitter campaign for recognition in Asda stores. Smith has previously hit out at the GMB’s “cynical and deliberate” tactics.
Kenny said Smith’s attendance at the conference was “the beginning of a bridge”. In a speech to delegates he said: “There are thousands more GMB members working in Asda stores than there were last year, and that is progress.
“We will continue until we get to a point where we can properly bring back collective bargaining to those Asda retail stores.”
Asda remained tight-lipped as to whether Smith’s trip meant a deal on collective bargaining was back on the table. Smith was unavailable for comment.