Unite says more than a dozen workers at data centres were marched off premises in Chester and the Wirral in a contract dispute

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Unite members employed at Unilever’s data centres in Bromborough in the Wirral and Chester by Sodexo face an uncertain Christmas and New Year after they were locked out of their workplace and threatened with redundancy.

It has emerged that, with only a few hours notice, around 14 workers were marched off the premises last week.

Many of them had worked at the centres for more than ten years.

Unite says Unilever gave notice of cancellation of Sodexo’s contract without notifying union officials.

National officer, Jennie Formby said: “This lock-out is a disgrace and a crushing blow to workers and their families – especially at this time of year when Christmas is fast approaching.

“Workers feel angry and betrayed by Unilever. Where is their trust in their workforce if they have to march people off their premises to re-negotiate a contract? What is clear is that Unilever is using cowardly dirty tactics to get rid of the union and its members.

“Our members won’t take this attack lying down, and they have the full support of their union behind them.”

Unite has begun consultations with Sodexo and the union is considering legal action against Unilever.

Officials believe Unilever is using the lock-out to try to evade its legal responsibilities under TUPE regulations. They say work usually carried out by Sodexo staff has either been taken back in-house by Unilever, or temporarily contracted to a different third party.


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