Asda workers in strike ballot as pay talks break down

Last month’s outline agreement between GMB representatives for Asda workers and the company has collapsed and the union is balloting members in a call for industrial action

Thousands of workers at supermarket chain Asda are to be balloted about whether to strike in a continuing row about pay and bargaining rights.

The GMB union said more than 8,000 of its members would vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.

Last month the union and Asda reached an initial agreement covering recognition, bargaining rights and access in 20 distribution depots.

GMB suspended the plans for an official strike ballot in the depots pending the completion of official written agreements.

But recent events in depots and stores following that meeting “cast doubt on the reality of the agreement”, the GMB said.

Jude Brimble, GMB national officer, said: “GMB has spent over 20 hours in talks with the company to try to find a satisfactory resolution of the items in dispute. We thought we had made progress but in the end we are back to square one.

“Asda Wal-Mart is not prepared to accept that pay and condition agreements need to be fair and fairly arrived at. We need a big vote for strike action to secure these reasonable objectives.”

In a statement Asda said: We’re really disappointed, after all the significant progress we made, that the GMB has changed their position and walked away from the negotiating table in favour of a 1970s-style industrial bargaining dispute.”

Asda and the GMB have been involved in a bitter war of words with Asda’s HR director, David Smith, accusing the union of waging a “cynical and deliberate” campaign against the company.

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