Asda staff plan walkout over union recognition

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The Independent Online

Thousands of warehouse workers at Asda are to walk out for five days in one of the most prolonged stoppages in recent industrial history.

Employees at the supermarket giant's supply chain are to begin a strike over union recognition next Friday. As part of a "comprehensive programme of industrial action", it is understood that members of the GMB general union at the 20 depots will then begin a ban on overtime and a work to rule aimed at inhibiting the company's attempts to recover from the walkout.

The union believes the company, which is owned by the US group WalMart, will seek to break the strike which is timed to coincide with a possible England appearance in the World Cup quarter-finals to maximise support for the strike.

Phil Davies, the national officer at the union, said it was also significant that the date of the stoppage set by the shop stewards covered 4 July, US Independence Day. "GMB members want independence from the anti-trade union tactics of Wal-Mart worldwide," he said.

In a 57 per cent turnout, the union's members voted by nearly three to one for walkouts. The GMB warned employment agencies it will take legal action against them if they supply strike-breakers to Asda.

Mr Davies said: "We will step up the campaign against the agencies we know are collaborating with Asda-WalMart to break this strike and we will use the full force of the law against them."

A spokeswoman for Asda said: "Around two-thirds of our depot colleagues aren't even members of the GMB, and we expect most of them will want to turn up for work as normal.

"As we've said all along, we'll work hard to ensure they can, and that our customers don't notice a thing."

The spokeswoman said there was no intention of using agency workers to replace strikers.

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