STRIKING drivers and warehouse workers at the Iceland distribution depot in the London Borough of Enfield have told of brutal attempts last Thursday to break the strike by contractor DHL Exel.
The Transport and General Workers’ Union said that gangs of security guards, described as “thugs, no more, no less” by one picket, had been brought in.
“They are threatening, provoking and intimidating our people,” said TGWU senior industrial organiser Peter Kavanagh. “We are trying to deal with the police over a serious incident of assault. It has been a nasty start to what is a lawful strike and a peaceful protest. There’s no Christmas cheer here.”
Kavanagh said that DHL Exel must have spent a small fortune to bring in the private security guards and agency labour to get supplies out earlier than usual in an attempt to break the strike. But he said the goods being delivered may not be as fresh as they should be.
“DHL sent the refrigerated trucks out three hours earlier than normal but the Iceland stores weren’t opened three hours early,” he added.
“That means the refrigeration units would have had to stand idle waiting for the stores to open before they could be unloaded.
“You have to wonder what happened to those foodstuffs during the wait when they couldn’t be kept in proper refrigerated conditions. Iceland customers should be asking questions as we would.”
The TGWU said the amounts of money being spent trying to break the strike and undermine the DHL Excel workforce would have been better spent sorting out the pay dispute.
The one-day strike was called in protest at an imposed 2.4 per cent pay increase by DHL Exel and the failure of the contractor to pass on any of the productivity and efficiency gains made by the 115 drivers and 250 warehouse staff.
The Enfield site delivers to about 180 Iceland stores in London and across the south-east and East Anglia, including stores in Norwich, Norfolk, Ipswich, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent.
Further strike action is planned for Friday 15th December followed by Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd December.