Tesco has reached an agreement on pay with staff at four distribution centres, averting strike action and reducing the possibility of empty shelves before Christmas.

Tesco warehouse

Trade union Unite, which has been representing members in a dispute with Tesco at the distribution centres in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster, announced this afternoon it was calling off planned strike action in the run-up to Christmas after reaching an agreement with the grocery giant. 

Following fresh talks, Tesco offered workers a minimum of a 5.5% increase backdated to July 2021 – the anniversary date for annual pay increases – and an additional 0.5% from February 2022.

Unite accepted the offer and called on members to call off the strike, which had been due to start on December 16 and would have involved 1,100 warehouse staff and HGV drivers. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tesco’s improved offer shows what can be achieved by our members standing together. Given that the company has forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5bn an improved offer is the least Tesco workers could expect.”

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We’re pleased to have agreed to a pay deal with Unite that it recommends to its members. Colleagues at these centres will no longer be taking industrial action. We look forward to delivering a fantastic Christmas for customers.”

While the agreement eases potential pressure on Tesco’s supply chain heading into the run-up to Christmas, staff from a further nine distribution centres represented by shopworkers’ union Usdaw are still threatening strike action beginning December 20. 

On Tuesday evening, Usdaw said Tesco had reopened negotiations in a bid to avert a strike.  

The planned industrial action is the latest in a string of strike threats by distribution and warehouse workers over the last few weeks. 

Earlier this week, representatives of the GMB union threatened Asda with possible strike action from its warehouse workers. Morrisons also recently agreed to a pay rise to avert a strike by 1,100 of its warehouse staff.

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