ANGRY union leaders claim Unilever has ‘locked-out’ contract workers at the firm’s site near Chester.
Unite has slammed the consumer goods giant and says about 14 members were marched off Unilever data centres in Chester and Bromborough last week.
The agency workers – who are employed at the Chester Gates Business Park site through Sodexo – have been served with three months notice.
Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: “This lock-out is a disgrace and a crushing blow to workers and their families – especially at this time of year when Christmas is fast approaching.
“Workers feel angry and betrayed by Unilever. Where is their trust in their workforce if they have to march people off their premises to re-negotiate a contract? What is clear is that Unilever is using cowardly tactics to get rid of the union and its members.
“Our members won’t take this attack lying down and they have the full support of their union behind them.”
Unite has begun consultations with Sodexo and the union is considering legal action against Unilever.
Unilever confirmed the existing contract with Sodexo was in the process of being terminated as the introduction of new technology at the data centres meant some services were no longer needed.
However, the firm plans to put a new service agreement with Sodexo in place shortly.
A spokesperson said: “We understand that this is a difficult time for the Sodexo employees affected.
“It was a necessary step, given the sensitive nature of our data centre operations, to require them to discontinue attendance at these sites once notice on the contract had been served on October 8.
“We would like to make clear that this is in no way a reflection upon the individuals concerned and we are working with Sodexo to ensure they are fully supported.
“Of course, these employees will continue to be paid as usual during the three month notice period.
“Sodexo will also consult with them to explore alternative employment opportunities; these could include roles within the new services contract with Sodexo, who remain our provider, and this will be put into place in the coming weeks.”