GMB is the union for staff employed by the agency, 24/7 Recruitment, at the Marks and Spencer (M&S) distribution centre in Swindon. Several GMB members received a text message over the last two days, saying that they would not be required to work on the M&S contract until further notice.
GMB have spoken to 24/7 for an explanation. As you know, the agency provides staff to DHL, who run the distribution centre on behalf of M&S.
DHL informed 24/7, at very short notice, that agency staff were not required, and DHL advised that 24/7 needed to act immediately. This is due to very poor business performance by Marks and Spencer, both on food and clothes, which means that work volumes are very low.
As they had to act very quickly, 24/7 selected the staff at random. GMB understands that it is unfair that some of those selected have worked there for many years, while some newer staff are still working. However, under English law, employers cannot use length of service as a reason for choosing between people, as this could be regarded as discrimination.
GMB has every sympathy for the situation that you are in. Unfortunately, the reason for the reduction in workforce is the poor business performance of Marks and Spencer, which is a problem that GMB cannot solve; and 24/7 are behaving in the way that employment agencies normally do in the UK.
As you have an agency contract, 24/7 are offering to find you work at other contracts that they have in Swindon, particularly Iceland and B&Q, where 24/7 currently have vacancies. You would then be given priority to return to M&S when business improves. This is allowed by both the old contract and the new contract, where each of these different sites is known as an “assignment”. If you take work with 24/7 at Iceland or B&Q, then you will still be working for 24/7, and your length of service will continue uninterupted.