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Lidl Announces Intention To Challenge Court Decision

Friday, August 12, 2016
Lidl Announces Intention To Challenge Court Decision Giving GMB Right To Represent Members In Bridgend

GMB calls for Lidl to abandon court battle to hinder workers’ rights to better pay and conditions at Lidl.

GMB, Britain’s general union, has called for Lidl to abandon attempts to subvert workers’ rights after the company announced its intention to appeal a decision from the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to the court of appeal that would allow workers to have the union represent their interests. Lidl has confirmed to GMB’s lawyers and in open court that they will appeal.

The CAC had previously dismissed Lidl’s attempts to block warehouse operatives employed at the company’s Bridgend distribution centre from having GMB represent their interests (See notes to editors for previous GMB press releases on Lidl and a statement from the company).

GMB's successful legal defence confirmed 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.

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said "Lidl has lost two court battles. It is about time it took the jack boots off and started respecting the laws in this country.

In the UK since Victorian times, we have had a culture where employees enjoy the legal rights to choose to combine and be represented by an organisation independent of the employer. This right is incorporated into international accords that thanks to the sacrifices of previous generations apply across the civilised world, including Germany.

Lidl must now abandon attempts to subvert these rights and begin to bargain with their employees and to extend collective bargaining to their hard pressed retail workers.”

End

Contact: Maria Ludkin on 07956 632 657 or GMB press office on 07958 156846 or 07813 541656 press.office@gmb.org.uk

Notes to editors

1 Lidl Press statement

“Naturally, we are disappointed with the outcome of the judicial review and we are currently considering an appeal with our legal team.

As a responsible retailer, we are committed to ensuring that our employees receive a high level of internal support and are provided with entitlements that go above and beyond statutory standards. This includes longer basic holiday packages, which increase with length of service. In 2015, we also became the first British supermarket to adopt the Living Wage, as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation, directly benefitting over 50% of our workforce and ensuring that Lidl employees would be amongst the best paid in the industry.

We maintain the belief that our employees are fairly represented within the business, without having to engage with unions and creating a fragmented workforce. Our commitment to fairness across our entire workforce forms a central part of our core values, and we are dedicated to nurturing a collaborative environment that is based on open and direct lines of communication.”

2 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)

Belvedere (London)

Enfield (London)

Livingston (Scotland)

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.

3 GMB press release dated Thursday, August 11, 2016

Landmark Legal Judgement Allows Lidl Workers To Have GMB Union Negotiate Pay And Conditions

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."

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