GMB’s successful legal action offers Lidl workers a new route to negotiate pay and conditions after low-cost supermarket’s objections are thrown out.
GMB, Britain’s general union, is celebrating a landmark legal victory over German-owned, low-cost supermarket Lidl. The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the independent tribunal with statutory powers over trade union recognition, dismissed Lidl’s attempts to block warehouse operatives employed at the company’s Bridgend distribution centre from having a union represent their interests.
GMB's successful legal defence confirms the right of members to negotiate pay and terms and conditions within the company after the supermarket's objections were thrown out. Following the ruling, the union called for a ballot to be organised as soon as possible so warehouse operatives could decide whether GMB should be formally recognised for collective bargaining purposes at Lidl’s Bridgend distribution centre.
Lidl’s parent company is registered in Germany, but the supermarket already has 637 stores and 9 regional distribution centres* across England, Wales and Scotland employing more than 18,000 staff. The company’s ambitious UK expansion ambitions could eventually see it more than double in size, with plans for 1,500 stores in the UK.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary said “Lidl's attempts at union busting were quite properly thrown out by the judge in a massive victory for rights at work. Today's ruling opens the gates to not only improving employees’ pay and terms and conditions at the Bridgend site, but is also a major victory for the GMB's campaign for a trade union voice at the workplace.
The suggestion that Lidl's workers do not need the option of a trade union to stick up for them and fight for their interests is baloney, pure and simple. As a result of today's ruling, employees will get the chance to decide for themselves whether the company's own 'personal personnel hotline' is any match for an independent union taking their side and defending their interests in the workplace.
John Phillips, GMB Wales and South West Regional Secretary said "Regrettably, Lidl continues to show both hostility towards GMB and shameful disregard for the wishes of its own workforce with expensive challenges against fair and objective decisions made by independent third party organisations.
GMB has a history of working in positive partnership with decent employers. Lidl's management should recognise that organised trade unionism, and strong levels of employee involvement, goes alongside high levels of productivity and commercial success. Lidl must now do the right thing and engage in constructive dialogue with us to ensure the company’s workers can be balloted fairly."
Contact: Justin Bowden on 07710 631351, Mervyn Burnett on 07980 753114, Ruth Bennett on 07980 753115, Lorraine Gaskill on 07957 266917 or GMB press office on 07958 156846 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
*Lidl UK regional distribution centres
In addition to its ‘Goods In, Goods Out’ operation based in Bridgend (South Wales), the company has regional distribution centres in:
Newton Ayclffe (North East)
Runcorn (North West)
Lutterworth (East Midlands)
Weston-super-Mare (South West)
Northfleet (South East)
The company also plans to open two new regional distribution centres in Southampton (South East), expected to create 400 new jobs in September 2016 - and Wednesbury (West Midlands), expected to create 500 jobs in early 2017.