- Around 700 Tesco drivers and warehouse staff threaten strike action
- Grocer has frozen their pay in 2015 and has offered a “pitiful” 1.5% rise in 2016
- If workers vote in favour of a strike, the walkout could begin on December 18
Hundreds of Tesco delivery drivers and warehouse staff have threatened to go on strike ahead of the crucial Christmas trading period.
Around 700 drivers and staff at distribution hubs in Belfast and Doncaster will be balloted for strike action after the supermarket giant froze their pay this year.
The workers, who are represented by union Unite, will vote until December 11 and a vote in favour of a strike could see them walk out any time after December 18 – just one week before Christmas.
Unite said any strike action would severely disrupt deliveries to Tesco stores in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland, although the grocer played down the impact it would have on customers.
But Unite has urged the supermarket giant to revise its “pitiful” pay offer of a 0% rise in 2015 and a 1.5% uplift in 2016 to avoid the mass walk out.
The dispute over pay comes after Tesco reported a 55% fall in first-half operating profits to £354m, but hailed improving like-for-like sales. Boss Dave Lewis is fighting to cut costs and repair the embattled grocer’s battered balance sheet.
‘Pitiful’ pay offer
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Our members have been working very hard to get Tesco to the position where the company can announce such promising results and be confident that it has turned the corner of the challenges of recent years.
“Unite members don’t want to disrupt anyone’s Christmas shopping but without a proper pay increase thousands of workers will not be able to enjoy their own Christmas in the way they deserve”
Adrian Jones, Unite
“We don’t want favours from the company but we believe that the current offer is far below what it can afford and what our members deserve.
“Unite members don’t want to disrupt anyone’s Christmas shopping but without a proper pay increase thousands of workers will not be able to enjoy their own Christmas in the way they deserve.
“We urge Tesco to revise its pitiful pay offer and avoid potential industrial action in the run up to Christmas.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “For the past several months we have been engaged in dialogue with our unions over our normal annual pay negotiations in our distribution centres. A two-year pay proposal has been fully recommended for acceptance by Usdaw across 20 of our sites and colleagues are currently voting on this offer.
“Discussions continue with our colleagues represented by Unite and we have agreed to meet with all four of the Unite sites in their local bargaining groups by Wednesday of this week to continue the pay negotiations for these distribution centres.
“Ahead of these pre-agreed talks two Unite sites have now notified Tesco of their intention to hold a ballot for industrial action.
“The approach from Unite is clearly counterproductive, as we have always been committed to pay discussions, and is surprising given Unite had initially agreed to new talks. Any industrial action at these two sites will have no noticeable effect on Tesco customers.
“We want all of our distribution colleagues to support our turnaround plans, and work together to better serve our customers.”