GMB wins collective bargaining in  ASDA Wal-Mart distribution depots



GMB Shop Stewards from the Asda Wal-Mart distribution depots yesterday met in London to consider the outcome of the talks hosted by the TUC between Asda Chief Executive Andy Bond and GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny. Following lengthy consideration of the attached agreement and following over night contacts between the parties GMB are able to confirm that the agreement has been accepted and the five day strike has been called off.

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said, "This new agreement which GMB and Asda Wal-Mart have worked very hard to achieve heralds a new fresh approach to representation and bargaining between the company and GMB. It is the clear intention of this new agreement that issues beneficial to the growth of the company and the economic benefit of its employees will be dealt with through the new National Joint Council."


ASDA/GMB Agreement on ASDA Distribution Sites

Following discussions today between representatives of ASDA, led by Chief Executive Andy Bond and the GMB led by General Secretary Paul Kenny, facilitated by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, the following proposals were agreed:

a new Distribution National Joint Council (on the principles outlined in Annex A) is to be established to deal with a range of issues of mutual concern and interest in relation to ASDA's distribution depots;
meetings of the company and the union will take place at the most senior level at least twice a year jointly to review major strategic issues facing the company;

negotiations at local level will take place on the modernisation of the existing

collective bargaining agreements in nine ASDA depots with the NJC exercising

an overview;

the GMB will henceforth be given access to all ASDA distribution sites (current and future), with facilities for appropriate levels of union workplace representatives, facilities to distribute union literature, recruit into the union, present the union case during company induction procedures, run union election procedures for workplace reps and within the new NJC etc; the details of all these arrangements need to be agreed.

- in relation to two sites in which ASDA/GMB Partnership Agreements currently operate (Chepstow and Erith), the company has agreed to negotiate with the GMB through the NJC as a first priority on a model collective bargaining agreement for these and potentially other sites. The joint intention is to complete this work within 3 months. Implementation of this agreement in each of those two sites will require support from 50 per cent or more of those voting in a ballot of all colleagues in the agreed bargaining unit at each site, to be triggered by the GMB at an appropriate time.

After the first of these ballots the company and the union will meet at the most senior level to evaluate the first of these ballots, including voting turnout and the conduct of each party throughout the process. This evaluation will inform discussions on how the process for collective bargaining will be handled in respect of other sites.

The company have confirmed that they have no principled objection to collective bargaining provided this is subject to the free and informed choice of employees. The company would remain neutral and would continue to communicate with colleagues in the normal way and both parties have committed that any ballots held under these procedures would be conducted in a non-adversarial manner. In the event of any misrepresentations of fact, either party would have the right to raise and correct these with the other party. Both parties commit themselves to working together to rebuild relations, restore trust, and conduct relations in a non-adversarial way.

In the spirit of this agreement the union and the company will carry out joint presentations for managers and union reps.

This prospective agreement is subject to ratification by the GMB in consultation with ASDA workplace reps. Facilities for that consultation will be provided by the company today. Upon ratification this agreement will be communicated by the company to all its managers and by the union to all its representatives and members.

Either party shall have 3 months notice to terminate this agreement.


Annex A

National Joint Council - Framework Agreement


An NJC shall be established comprising representatives of the company and 8 representatives of the GMB. The NJC will deal with national matters of common concern including:

Health and safety,

HR policies: grievance, absence, disciplinary;

Training and development: joint training, steward training;

Steward facilities: time off, representation, numbers;

Dispute resolution;

New technology;

Environmental issues:

Equal opportunity policy;

Diversity management;

New builds;

and other matters of mutual interest or joint lobbying.


The NJC will aim to establish a constructive shared approach based on mutual trust and understanding. It is not itself a collective bargaining or legally binding

agreement. The NJC will operate on a consultative basis though will aim wherever possible to reach agreement and work through consensus.

Scope and Tasks

An immediate priority for the NJC will be to draft a model agreement governing new recognition and collective bargaining agreements in sites where this applies. Both sides have undertaken to reach agreement on this within 3 months.

The NJC will also keep industrial relations throughout the company under review, including the procedures which apply for the union establishing collective bargaining and recognition at company sites. This review process will also consider extending the operation of the NJC as relations improve and trust is developed.

Meetings of the NJC should be held regularly, as and when necessary but not less than quarterly, with professional arrangements for minute taking and administrative support provided by the company. Each side will provide a secretary and the chair will alternate between meetings.

Other detailed issues concerning the functioning and composition of the NJC will be the subject of further detailed negotiations.


June 2006

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