200 jobs affected as Co-op catches ‘privatisation bug’

by - 6th June 2012, 13.53 GMT

The Co-operative’s food wing has been accused of ‘soiling its principles’ by contracting out its distribution operations in the South West.

Unite condemned today’s announcement that the Co-op is merging its two distribution centres at Chelston and Portbury into a new centre in Avonmouth  – and contracting out the work at the new site to the transport and logistics company, Norbert Dentressangle.

A total of 200 jobs will be affected at the two sites, which are due to close in November 2012.

Unite national officer for retail distribution Matt Draper said: “This is the thin end of the wedge and the slippery slope to privatisation of the Co-op’s services. Clearly, this decision is soiling the Co-op’s 19th century founding principles of mutuality for the common good.”

Unite intends to raise this with the Co-operative MPs in the Labour Party –  numbering about 30 – and also at the Co-operative’s board meeting at the end of this month.

Matt Draper said the Co-op was in breach of a previous agreement that it would not go down the ‘contracting out’ route. This follows the contracting out of work at the Andover distribution centre in Hampshire two years ago, which the Co-op said was a temporary measure in difficult economic times.

Matt Draper said: “The fact that the Co-op has got the privatisation ‘bug’ is to be deplored. We believe that this will lead to job losses and a diminution in the terms and conditions of those still employed, with no guarantee that the level of service to the local Co-op shops will be maintained.

“We are asking the Co-op to re-think its decision to outsource this work to a private company – and will be seeking assurances from the Co-op that the jobs, and terms and conditions of our members will not be adversely affected.”