ASOS union turf war steps up a gear as Community ordered to pay rivals GMB £25,000

A UNION turf war will reach boiling point on Friday as workers represented by one organisation at internet shopping giant ASOS's Barnsley warehouse step out to campaign against a rival union.
The ASOS distribution centre near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA WireThe ASOS distribution centre near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
The ASOS distribution centre near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The dispute between the GMB and Community Union dates back to 2017, when ASOS and logistics firm XPO, who manage the site, signed a recognition deal with Community. At the time, GMB claim, it had been campaigning on behalf of hundreds of members of site to be recognised, whereas Community, it claims, had just four members.

The latest action comes after Community was ordered to pay the GMB £25,000 fine after the TUC Disputes Committee today ruled that Community had “clearly and significantly breached” principle three of the TUC’s code governing disputes, which prevents another union directly or indirectly, undermining established unions or those engaged in organising activity.

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The TUC ordered it to formally seek recognition for GMB at the Grimethorpe site.

GMB regional secretary Neil Derrick, said: “GMB is the true voice for ASOS workers and be assured we’ll be stepping up our battle to win dignity and respect here in Barnsley.

“Workers at ASOS have been crying out for union representation of their choice, not of their bosses’ - and that’s what they’re getting with GMB every day.”

A spokesperson for Community slammed the GMB for “hypocrisy”, saying it had “selectively publicised” elements of the ruling, and had over the last year, also been rapped by the TUC for similar code breaches, including one which led to a £15,000 payout to Community.

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He said: “In a clear breach of both the judgment and the general principles of the TUC, the GMB have chosen to publicly attack a sister union, in a move which only serves to undermine all trade union members.

“Despite these disputes with the GMB in which rulings have been made in Community’s favour, Community chose not to publicise these events, nor use them to criticise the GMB. Even now, it is with regret that Community takes the decision to expose the GMB’s hypocrisy, but it would be a dereliction of duty to our members and the wider union movement to not present the bigger picture in light of the GMB’s actions.

“Meanwhile, at the site in Barnsley, despite the GMB’s assertions, Community has dozens of democratically elected reps across the site, representing over 1,000 paying members. With Community on their side, the workers have organised successfully in the past year for the real living wage, better contracts, and democratic union structures.

“Community remains prepared to work with the GMB in good faith to improve union relations and strengthen the labour movement.”

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