A planned five-day strike by warehouse workers for ASDA, the U.K. unit of U.S. mass retailer Wal-Mart (Bentonville, Ark.), was called off following negotiations between unions and the supermarket chain. ASDA’s chief executive Andy Bond lead discussions for the company with British general union GMB’s general secretary Paul Kenny. Among other items, they agreed to:
- The formation of a “Distribution National Joint Council” to address labor issues in ASDA’s distribution centers at the national level.
- Twice yearly meetings between the company and the union to discuss major strategic issues facing the company.
- Local negotiations to update existing collective bargaining agreements in nine ASDA facilities.
- Union access to all distribution facilities (current and future) “with facilities for appropriate levels of union workplace representatives, facilities to distribute union literature, recruit into the union, present the union case during company induction procedures, run union election procedures for workplace reps.”
The dispute reportedly centered around ASDA’s unwillingness to allow unions to negotiate nationally on behalf of employees at the company’s 24 facilities.
“This new agreement which GMB and Asda Wal-Mart have worked very hard to achieve heralds a new fresh approach to representation and bargaining between the company and GMB. It is the clear intention of this new agreement that issues beneficial to the growth of the company, the economic benefit of its employees will be dealt with through the new National Joint Council,” said Kenny.
"We're pleased to have signed an agreement acceptable to both sides to end the current dispute--good news for our customers and colleagues alike,” said David Cheesewright, chief operating officer at ASDA.
The company has a section of its website devoted to its relationship with the trade union.