Asda is facing more union action over collective bargaining rights after being forced to pay out £850,000 to GMB members.
The GMB union has been buoyed by an employment tribunal judgment that slammed Asda’s tactics to break collective bargaining rights by illegally offering pay inducements to members at its Washington depot in Tyne and Wear.
Following the success of the legal action, the union’s Central Executive Council this week said it would “vigorously resist all attempts by Asda to remove bargaining arrangements already in place” and agreed to step up the campaign to secure full collective bargaining rights at stores and depots.
The tribunal ruled that Asda had run a hostile campaign against trade unions and that a ballot of workers had been held with the main purpose of removing collective bargaining rights. Ordering Asda to pay £2,500 to each of the 340 union members, the tribunal dismissed the retailer’s arguments and said it “cannot accept that any one of these witnesses (for Asda) was telling the truth about the nature and purpose of the ballot”.
Iain Birrell, of Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle, who acted for GMB members, said: “In ten years of practice I cannot recall seeing a tribunal judgment so damning of a respondent’s case and of its witnesses’ credibility.”
Asda is considering an appeal and remains adamant that the ballot held at the Washington depot, which had been bought from Wincanton several years ago, was absolutely not about the removal of collective bargaining. “It was simply a way of consulting our people as to whether they wanted to move into line with the employment terms at the Asda depot next door,” said an Asda spokeswoman.
Fiona McLelland