10 December 2014
From GMB: GMB Ballot On Strike Action At Marks & Spencer Swindon Distribution Depot Over Racist Abuse And Subsequent Sacking Of Two Abused Members
On Friday 12th December up to 100 angry members will protest outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon over this management action says GMB.
GMB is holding a consultative ballot on strike action for members employed at Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon over racist abuse of staff by a manager and the subsequent sacking from the site of two members, one of whom is a GMB shop steward.
In addition on Friday 12th December up to 100 GMB members will protest outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon on the issues.
On Monday 1st December, two GMB members of Indian heritage were approached by a white manager employed by Wincanton and falsely accused of talking instead of working. One of the manager said “I am going to teach you Indian bastards a lesson”. GMB members were then shut in a room, and then escorted from the site. They have since been permanently excluded i.e. sacked. One of the sacked and victimised staff is Mr Domingos Dias a GMB shop steward for the site.
The Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre is run by Wincanton on behalf of M&S but the majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton. There have been several GMB protests about how members are treated on site. See notes to editors for copies of recent GMB press releases.
The details of protest are as follows:
11:00 am to 12: 00 noon on Friday 12th December,
Marks and Spencer
81 Regent St,
Wiltshire SN1 1JY
GMB members will be holding banners saying “Marks and Spencer, we will not tolerate racism, we are not slaves” and “We Demand Respect at Work”.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional officer, said, “More than 80% of the staff, permanent and agency, on site are non-white, but of more than 40 Wincanton managers all but about 4 of them are white. Our members describe a management culture reminiscent of a Mississippi plantation.
Since May 2014 GMB has repeatedly advised the employers that members had been reporting racist and bullying behaviours by racist managers to the union. The union asked both Tempay Ltd and Wincanton what steps they could put in place to reassure members that they would not suffer detriment if they gave evidence. Neither employer responded to the union. However due to their precarious agency worker status, our members had felt too intimidated to raise formal grievances, as they feared they would lose work.
Mr Dias, one of the two sacked GMB members, did raise a grievance against discriminatory language and attitudes in September. The manager he specifically complained about is the one who abused him and sent him home.
I have never seen GMB members so angry. Many of them boycotted the Christmas lunch provided this week by Wincanton as a protest, and they are determined to fight these exclusions. GMB will not walk away from this fight. We demand that the exclusions are rescinded and that Wincanton and Marks and Spencer deals with its racist manager.”
Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Officer for Equality, said “GMB call on Marks and Spencer management to take racial abuse seriously and to discipline the supervisor responsible. I will be with GMB members on Friday protesting outside the Marks and Spencer store in Swindon over this racist abuse.”
Contact: GMB Wiltshire branch secretary, Andy Newman on 0754 0859 227, or GMB Regional Organiser, Carole Vallelly on 07912 181476 or Kevin Brandstatter 07813 207374 or Chris Watts on 01793 818 005 or 07776 238 327 GMB Press Office 07921 289 880