Strikes loom as Shaw's benefits offer is snubbed

Workers at New England grocer Shaw's have voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal to redraft healthcare benefits, bringing the prospect of strike action dangerously close.

Albertsons completed the purchase of Shaw's from UK group Sainsbury's in May. It was one of the combatants in a 141-day strike that ended in March.

Workers at 39 stores voted on Sunday to reject Albertsons' proposals by 1,214 votes to 197. A United Food and Commercial Workers Union spokesman told local press the offer was an 'insult'. The union represents 6,000 workers at the business.

The union claims the plans will result in higher insurance payments, a reduction in benefits and no resulting rise in pay.

The management is preparing to run stores if a strike occurs, and has argued that healthcare costs rose 60 per cent over the past three years.