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Argos strike: Delivery drivers announce three-day Christmas walkout

Unite the union predicts 'havoc and chaos' for consumers in run-up to Christmas as drivers walk out but said talks will be held on Wednesday to try to reach agreement

Unite the union predicted "havoc and chaos" for Argos customers in the run-up to Christmas as its drivers said they would strike for 72 hours starting 20 December.

Union members voted overwhelmingly for the walkout after they said Argos had failed to pay holiday back pay for two years, amounting to £700 per worker on average.

With drivers set to strike from next Tuesday, returning to work on Christmas Eve, deliveries of thousands of gifts are at risk.

Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said talks will be held on Wednesday under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas.

The dispute is with drivers at Argos' flagship distribution centre at Wincanton in Staffordshire which acts as the hub of the chain's operation, supplying its other centres around the country.

Mr Coyle said: "The drivers have patiently tried to resolve this matter for over two years. Now they would like the money they are owed in time for Christmas, which is not unreasonable.

"It is very difficult to understand why Wincanton has allowed this saga to get out of hand."

“There will be a lot of very unhappy Argos customers, if they don’t receive the iPhones, TVs and ‘white’ goods that they have ordered as presents for relatives this Christmas. 

"We will continue to strain every sinew", to resolve the dispute, he said.

"However, until there is a satisfactory settlement, the 72-hour strike due to start on Tuesday is still scheduled to go ahead."

Wincanton drivers working at an Argos centre in Basildon in Essex are in the midst of a separate dispute. They will vote on whether to take industrial action over a disciplinary system relating to "uncontrolled vehicle movements", with the decision due on Friday 16 December.

Argos sought to play down the potential impact of the strike, however. A spokesperson said: “We have contingency plans in place and and can reassure customers we’re working hard to ensure this will not impact our deliveries this Christmas.”

The news will heap more misery on those expecting Christmas presents to arrive in time for the festive season and comes a day after thousands of Post Office workers announced their own five-day walkout starting next week.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters are also facing travel upheaval as Southern Rail workers began the latest of a series of strikes this week in a long-running dispute over the role of train guards.

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