Recruitment agency accused of breaking JJB strike

The GMB Union has accused JJB of illegally breaking a strike by warehouse workers at its Wigan depot.

Submitted by Sorry. on November 5, 2006

JJB, the sports retailer owned by former footballer and Wigan Athletic FC Chairman Dave Whelan, has been accused by the GMB union of breaking laws that prohibit employment agency staff from doing the jobs of strikers.

The union claims that "JJB are collaborating with a range of employment agencies to illegally break the strike. All this activity by JJB to break the strike is an illegal attempt to run a coach and horses through the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003"

"Staff from one agency, Bond Personnel, work in Warehouse 3 only on picking duties only. The second agency Heads do no picking in Warehouse 3. They do a variety of jobs in Warehouse 2 and 3 but not the bulk truck. Both supply weekend staff who do not work on weekdays. Some have already done so. On strike days, if these workers from these two agencies cover the duties of striking staff - which GMB now know JJB Sports are doing - our legal advice is that the agencies are breaking the law. The third agency, Light Year has an intermittent association and their staff should not be on site at all during the dispute. They were on site yesterday"

The GMB has been photographing agency scabs to gather evidence to use against JJB, whilst pickets hold signs saying "SMILE YOU ARE ON CAMERA WHEN YOU CROSS THIS PICKET LINE".

266 GMB members took 24hr strike action on 31st October and 2nd November, with the GMB also staging a 'coach and horses' publicity stunt on the second day. They have also begun working restrictions in the form of an overtime ban and a work to rule. The Martland Park depot supplies all 430 stores.

Glynis West, a warehouse worker interviewed by the Independent said, "The problem is that it gets more and more difficult to earn the extra £20 [bonus]. Last week I worked really hard and could not manage it. Sometimes we are running as fast as we can. You're so tired you often have to go to bed early." She also pointed out that even her 32-year-old daughter, Diane, found it difficult to meet the target. The workers are asking for better pay and a fairer bonus scheme.

Whelan has denounced the workers demands as "tantamount to communism" and also bragged that non-union and agency personnel would make the impact of the strike negligible.