DHL relocation plans put 150 workers at risk

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A DHL Supply Chain site in Harworth, South Yorkshire is set to close, risking 150 jobs and prompting a wave of strikes.

Union Unite, which has 120 workers at DHL Supply Chain’s Tickhill in Doncaster and nearby Harworth sites, has announced a programme of strikes from 15 May. As well as a 24-hour strike on the first day, this includes three days on 25 May, and 11 days from 1 June.

Workers at the two sites will protest at the closure of the Harworth site and a pay offer of 1.25 % for the year beginning June 2016.

The union warned that many of the 150 workers at the threatened Harworth site faced losing their jobs.

It said the closure was due to DHL losing a major contract, and the strikes were in response to that as well as the disinclination of another company, Great Bear, to give any reassurances about the future of its workers.

Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said: “The strikes are in response to a derisory pay offer of 1.25 per cent and in the context of a brutal TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – manoeuvre which will see the closure of DHL’s Harworth site and potential job losses for many of the 150 workers based there.

“These are individuals, many of whom are ex-miners, who walk or cycle to work from the neighbouring villages of Tickhill and Harworth and will be expected to travel 20 miles to the site at Markham Vale, operated by Great Bear Distribution, where warehouse workers are paid £1 an hour less.

“We want to resolve the dispute and protect as many jobs as possible by replacing agency workers with the permanent staff who face relocation to Markham Vale.

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“The management also said that it would refuse to recognise Unite as the union for the TUPE’d workers for collective bargaining and pay negotiations.

“Our members are not going to be pawns in some corporate cost-cutting exercise. These are hardworking employees and they deserve to be treated decently – and Unite with fight to that end.”

A spokesperson for DHL Supply Chain said: “We are disappointed that staff at Bawtry have voted in favour of strike action.

“Regrettably, the planned closure of the Harworth site follows the customer’s decision to transfer the operation to a new provider.

“Throughout the process we have expressed our willingness to meet with Unite to discuss the situation and we have not only met, but exceeded, our legal obligations to our workforce under TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – who will now transfer to Great Bear. Under TUPE, colleagues transfer on their current terms and conditions including pay.

“This includes implementing a vacancy management process so that colleagues affected by the TUPE are prioritised for vacancies in the region where they wish to remain with DHL.

“Contingency plans are being prepared and every effort will be made to minimise any disruption to service. We continue to urge Unite to return to the negotiating table to resolve this matter at the earliest opportunity.”

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