Staff at Swindon’s Marks & Spencer distribution centre are said to be walking out in droves over pay and conditions - and many are heading to the new Amazon warehouse.

It is feared the departures could affect the supermarket’s Christmas supplies.

Among those quitting are agency workers, some of whom have worked at the depot for up to 20 years.

Those left behind at the South Marsden Industrial Estate site say they are now struggling to keep up with demand.

One member of staff who wished to remain anonymous said he had worked there for 15 years as an agency worker for 24/7 Recruitment, which supplies a number of agency staff to the site. He described the current situation as dire.

“During lockdown we did not receive furlough pay but we stayed. Now Amazon has opened and is offering higher pay and guaranteed contracts which is something we’ve never had.

“Hundreds of people have left, many of them have worked here for over a decade.”

The worker explained there was an issue with agency staff being discriminated against because they weren’t considered for full-time positions that came up at the centre, weren’t offered bonuses and if they spoke up, they were told they won’t be given any shifts.

“It’s like slavery at the moment, they’re indirectly discriminating against us if we raise concerns.”

He warned that the workers left behind were already facing problems handling the workload and there was concern it would effect supply to stores for Christmas

“We are struggling now,” he said. “New starters come but disappear. If something isn’t done then we will fall behind with our work and delays will happen.”

GMB is the trade union for agency staff at the distribution centre. Branch secretary Andy Newman told the Adver: “Members working at the distribution centre are telling me that staff are leaving in droves to take higher paid jobs in other parts of the supply and distribution sector.

“DHL, who runs the site have offered a further 33p per hour, but it is not enough.

“Staffing levels are now so stretched that individuals are being refused holidays, and GMB is calling on Marks & Spencer to act urgently to increase wages, to resolve their staffing crisis.”

DHL told the Adver it does not have a staffing issue. Marks & Spencer and 24/7 Recruitment were approached for comment.

* An earlier version of this article named the agency involved as Chippenham firm 24/7 Staffing. This was incorrect and we apologise for this error and are happy to set the record straight.