MEMBERS of the GMB trade union staged a protest dressed as Abba members at Wincanton in Chippenham.

They waved Swedish flags and placards and danced to the pop group’s hits outside the headquarters in Methuen Park, to take a stand against what they say is an abuse of the Swedish derogation.

This allows an employment agency to legally avoid having to pay the worker the same rate of pay, even though under EU rules from 2011, temporary workers are entitled to the same pay and conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks of continuous employment.

GMB protestors yesterday delivered a ‘corporate ASBO’ to Wincanton, which manages Marks and Spencer’s regional distribution centre in Swindon.

GMB said many of the 280 permanent staff working in this warehouse as pickers or binners, employed by the agency Tempay, had been working at the same site on permanent assignment for several years, but were guaranteed only seven or eight hours work per week and paid only minimum wage – nearly £2 per hour less than warehouse staff employed directly by Wincanton. Members are calling on Tempay to ask Wincanton to end the disparity.

GMB Wiltshire branch secretary Andy Newman, who is the Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate for Chippenham, said many Tempay employees were scared to speak out in case their hours were cut. He said: “Our members complain of the arbitrary management regime where individuals can be sent home or called in at the whim of supervisors, and where any raising of legitimate health and safety or other issues can lead to hours being reduced to the contractual minimum.”

A Wincanton spokesman said: “Wincanton is a fair and ethical employer and maintains a regular dialogue with all of its employees along with union representatives.

“We endeavour to give our colleagues, whether Wincanton or agency, fair and safe working conditions.”