The Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers (USDAW) claimed that the proposal could mean the potential loss of 1,600 staff at five Tesco distribution centres.
National officer Joanne McGuinness said:“This is devastating news for our members and we will be examining very closely the business case for these proposed changes.”
A Tesco spokesperson said: "We’ve been reviewing our distribution network, and have confirmed plans to close some of our current distribution centres and open new ones that will give our customers a better service and improve working conditions for our colleagues.”
2,000 new jobs
But, contrary to cutting jobs, up to 2,000 new roles will be created, the spokesman added. “Colleagues who are affected will be offered jobs at other Tesco sites, including at the two new distribution sites we have confirmed today that we will be opening in Reading and Dagenham. 2,000 jobs will be created at those sites.”
The union pledged to use the 90-day consultation period to consult with the company on behalf of members who now faced “an uncertain future”.
It added while union officials knew the retailer’s review of its distribution network had been continuing for some time, the proposed closures of the Chesterfield, Harlow and Weybridge sites had come as a “great shock” to its members.
Also, further proposed job cuts at the Magor and Welham Green sites would cast “a huge shadow” over the workforces at those sites.
‘Retail sector never stands still’
“While we understand the retail sector never stands still, the human cost in these upheavals has impacted massively on the UK's warehouse and distribution workforce,” it said.
Earlier news reports had claimed that the reorganisation would lead to the loss of up to 800 jobs.
Meanwhile, in December the transport firm Eddie Stobart and Tesco drivers reached a deal to end their four-month dispute.
The row followed Tesco’s decision to transfer the running of the Doncaster distribution centre to Eddie Stobart on August 5 2012. The new employer issued 183 Tesco drivers with 90 days’ notice of termination of employment on September 5, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90 days was up.
Under the terms of the deal, the drivers finished work last month.
Eddie Stobart said the deal “will see them [the drivers] benefit from an increase on their contractual redundancy pay allowance”.