GMB London and East of England, the union for logistics staff, is calling on the Co-op to extend its cash bonus of £100 to its outsourced logistics staff as well as its regular members of staff.
The bonus is awarded to staff for coping with the massive surge in sales at the beginning of the public health emergency that led to bumper profits for the Co-op.
GMB members employed by Wincanton at a Co-op distribution depot near Huntingdon provided the logistics support to keep the shelves stocked and provide an essential service to local communities served by the Co-op stores across the East of England.
Wincanton operates a distribution depot at Godmanchester which employs approximately 180 staff in the warehouse and as drivers.
The Co-op awarded a bonus of £100 in its May pay packets and £50 in member benefits to all staff directly employed by Co-op staff for their efforts during the surge.
GMB members in the Co-op logistics chain asked via Wincanton if the Co-op was prepared to pay the bonus via Wincanton to these staff. They were told that the Co-op was refusing to recognise financially that without them they would not have been able to keep the shelves stocked.
The Co-op has yet to respond to the calls from GMB, but the retailer recently established a coronavirus fund that will support food banks, a funeral hardship fund and frontline community causes.
As part of the initiative that will run across the next three months, Co-op chief executive, Steve Murrells, has pledged 20% of his three quarters of a million pounds annual salary to the fund, which equates to £37,500 across the period.
“Without these workers putting their lives on hold in the emergency, the shelves in the Co-op stores around the East of England would have been empty for the local communities that rely on these stores. Without them there could not have been the surge in sales resulting in the bumper profit.”
Steve Garelick, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB members at the Co-op distribution depot in Godmanchester, Huntingdon are asking for the Co-op to reconsider their decision not to pay the bonus awarded to the direct retail staff to the very logistics staff vital to cope with the surge in demand at the start of the public health emergency.
“Without these workers putting their lives on hold in the emergency, the shelves in the Co-op stores around the East of England would have been empty for the local communities that rely on these stores. Without them there could not have been the surge in sales resulting in the bumper profit.
“Not to pay the well-deserved bonus to the retail staff to the logistics staff vital to it happening is the wrong decision by the Co-op.
“The Co-op should pay the bonus to its logistics staff via Wincanton who are in no position to pay it. Wincanton has a huge number of staff currently on furlough during the emergency while these logistics staff are at work serving the nation.”
Jan Wallace, GMB regional representative, said: “When the corona virus started to make a big impact on the business, we (all Wincanton staff) all rose to the challenge and did whatever was required.
“We were all apprehensive about what to expect whilst carrying out our duties, but our professionalism shone through with long days worked, second runs and voluntary days worked. No questions asked, we just got on with it, we did what was necessary.
“So, we were all very disappointed to learn about the Co-op’s and Wincanton’s position regarding the benefits. In a world that we all believe should be fairer, this is further from the truth.”