The site's UPS-employed drivers in Barton under Needwood are locked in a pay dispute, union bosses say

Argos customers are facing "Christmas misery" as drivers at a major distribution centre prepare to go on strike for 16 days.

Unite Union bosses say 42 of the 50 UPS-employed shunter and HGV drivers it represents at Argos' Barton under Needwood hub will down tools from Monday, December 16.

They claim work will effectively "grind to a halt" at the site, which ships high-end electrical items - including phones, laptops and TVs - to regional distribution centres for delivery to stores.

However, UPS bosses say they have made "contingency plans" to minimise disruption to customers.

Ninety per cent of the Unite-represented drivers voted in favour of the strike over a 10-month-long pay dispute with UPS, Unite says. The dispute does not involve Argos.

Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: "Unite has been waiting for an offer in response to our members' pay claim since March.

"Drivers and shunters have been treated with contempt and have had enough.

"UPS is claiming that it has engaged with the pay claim. In reality, our members only received an offer of a voucher scheme that was so devoid of details that it could not be put to a ballot.

"Our members do not want to cause disruption for Argos customers over the Christmas period, but they have been left with no choice but to strike.

"The treatment of these Barton workers has been disgraceful.

"The reputations of UPS and Argos are at risk during the peak Christmas period because of this refusal to meaningfully engage with the pay claim.

"It is now up to UPS to ensure this dispute does not extend right across the busiest time of the year for Argos by tabling a sensible offer that our members can actually vote on."

A UPS spokesperson said: "We are aware that the Unite union intends to call industrial action for UPS staff servicing the Argos facility in Barton, Staffordshire.

"Operational contingency plans will be put in place to minimise disruption for our customers should labour action go ahead.

"Discussions with Unite are ongoing and we remain hopeful that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.

"Please understand that these discussions are ongoing and we will not discuss any details in public."

Argos has been approached for comment.

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