Thirty Wincanton drivers claiming they are owed thousands of pounds in holiday pay are to launch a 72-hour strike at Argos’s national distribution centre five days before Christmas.

Union Unite said drivers numbering “in their thirties” will begin the three-day strike at the NDC at Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire just after midnight on Tuesday, December 20.

According to Unite the drivers voted by 83% to strike and by 95% for industrial action short of a strike over Wincanton’s failure to honour holiday back pay for at least the last two years.

Each driver is owed an average of about £700.

Unite said the dispute is over how the holiday pay is calculated. It stressed that legal cases have established that overtime and extra shift payments should be taken into account when assessing holiday pay.

It said management has offered to only backdate the holiday pay from April this year.

Unite said it remained “open for talks” to resolve the dispute which it warned could cause “havoc and mayhem” to deliveries across Staffordshire and Argos’s seven other NDCs in the crucial days running up to Christmas.

“The drivers have patiently tried to resolve this matter for over two years. Now they would like the money they are owed in time for Christmas, which is not unreasonable,” said Unite regional officer Rick Coyle.

“It is very difficult to understand why Wincanton has allowed this saga to get out of hand. There will be a lot of very unhappy Argos customers if they don’t receive the iPhones and TVs they have ordered for Christmas,” he said.

In a statement a Wincanton spokesman said: “We are disappointed with Unite’s announcement given that at Unite’s request we already have a meeting scheduled tomorrow morning with ACAS to resolve the issue.


"This follows Wincanton’s announcement to change its holiday pay calculations to include overtime for the first 20 days of annual leave entitlement taken in each holiday year. The change to holiday pay applies to all employees who receive overtime payments and therefore exceeds Wincanton’s obligations in line with recent holiday pay rulings and statutory guidance.

"We are committed to ongoing dialogue with Unite the Union. No other Wincanton operations are affected.”

Unite also revealed that in a separate dispute, Wincanton drivers working at the Argos centre in Basildon, Essex are voting on whether to take industrial action over a disciplinary system relating to “uncontrolled vehicle movements”. The ballot result is due on Friday December 16.

By David Craik