Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) has launched a campaign to support Lidl warehouse staff, after it claims workers were subject to ‘cramped’ conditions and poor health and safety.
The union claims it has received wide ranging complaints from staff. These include being set unreasonable workloads to meet targets and feeling pressured and unsafe, according to Usdaw’s reports.
One worker reportedly said: “Warehouse is always very cramped. Lots of accidents with pickers as some do not obey or understand the routes and rules of the warehouse.”
However, without responding to the specific complaints, when contacted for a statement, the German-owned discount supply chain said that staff benefits went above the standard.
“As a responsible retailer, we are committed to ensuring that our employees receive a high level of internal support and are provided with entitlements that go above and beyond statutory standards,” said a statement issued to Safety Management.
It added that Lidl employees are among the “best paid in the industry”, and that Lidl was the first supermarket to adopt the Living Wage.
Usdaw is raising the issues as part of its campaign to urge employers in retail, factory and warehouse industries to recognise it as the independent trade union for their staff. Seven warehouses have been visited by Usdaw staff in March to drum up union support.
Lidl’s spokesperson said it does not recognise Usdaw as its offcial union, adding: “We value direct communication and relationships with our employees and want to be the kind of employer where people don’t feel they need to pay a union to represent them.”
The claims agains Lidl follow a spate of similar reports in 2016 and 2017 against big brands, including Amazon and Asos, for allegedly poor conditions in warehouses.
In 2017, a government select committee heard how workers at Sports Direct’s warehouse in Derbyshire were penalised for taking a short break to drink water, or for taking time off due to illness.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary commented: “Usdaw regularly receives feedback from Lidl’s distribution staff, who are generally unhappy about their treatment at work and say morale can be pretty low. “We urge the company to meet with Usdaw.”
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