GMB members call off strike ballot after sacked workers get their jobs back

GMB MEC flagTwo GMB members sacked after being subject to racist abuse at work have been re-instated after their colleagues threatened to walk out in support of them.

The two men, one of whom is a shop steward, are of Indian heritage and work at the Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre in Swindon. They say they were approached by a white manager employed by Wincanton and falsely accused of talking instead of working.

They then claim the manager told them: “I am going to teach you Indian bastards a lesson” before locking them in a room and escorting them off the premises.

The union immediately called a strike ballot and began organising a demonstration outside Marks and Spencer in the Wiltshire town in support of the sacked workers. Following the men’s reinstatement, the ballot and the demonstration have been postponed.


The Marks and Spencer Distribution Centre is run by Wincanton on behalf of M&S but the majority of staff are employed through an employment agency called 24-7 Recruitment, but given contracts by another company called Tempay Ltd. Workers employed through Tempay earn the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour compared to the £8.50 per hour paid to workers doing exactly the same job but employed directly through Wincanton.

GMB regional officer Carole Vallelly said: “It is fantastic news that Wincanton have retracted the disgraceful sacking of two GMB members after a racist manager called them ‘Indian bastards’. GMB will not tolerate racism.

“I held a mass meeting today with members from the evening shift, and they have agreed to postpone the consultative strike ballot and to postpone the planned Friday protest outside Marks and Spencer.

“Our members are delighted that standing strong together has secured this victory. Yesterday there was a 100% solid boycott of the Wincanton christmas lunch on the late shift by GMB members in solidarity with their sacked colleagues.

“However, we do expect that Marks and Spencer and Wincanton will deal with this racist manager. If we find that he has not been dealt with, then we will restart our campaign.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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