‘Pitiful’ Tesco pay offer may spark Christmas strikes

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tesco drivers could be on the road to Christmas strikes, warns Unite
Tesco drivers could be on the road to Christmas strikes, warns Unite

Related tags: Trade union, Strike action

Tesco has slammed Unite the union’s claims that it has made “a pitiful pay offer”, which could lead 700 drivers and warehouse staff striking ahead of key Christmas trading.

Unite urged Britain’s biggest retailer to revise its “pitiful pay offer of 0% for 2015 and 1.5% for 2016 … to avoid potential industrial action in the run up to Christmas in its distribution network”.​  

More than 700 drivers and warehouse staff at distribution hubs in Belfast and Doncaster will start to be balloted for strike action next week. The strike vote followed a 91% rejection of the retailer’s pay offer across the three sites, said the union.

But a Tesco spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk the retailer had been talking to the unions about normal annual pay negotiations in its distribution centres for several months.

‘Acceptance by Usdaw’

“A two-year pay proposal has been fully recommended for acceptance by Usdaw ​[Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers] across 20 of our sites and colleagues are currently voting on this offer,”​ said the spokesman.

Tesco had agreed to meet with union representatives and local bargaining groups by today (November 25) 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.”

The retailer said it wanted its distribution staff to support turnaround plans, and work together to better serve its customers.

Disrupted in the run up to Christmas

Unite said a vote for industrial action, in ballots closing on Friday December 11, could see deliveries to Tesco stores in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland disrupted in the run up to Christmas with knock on effects felt across the UK.

The union’s national officer Adrian Jones said: “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.”

The current pay offer was “far below”​ what Tesco can afford and what our members deserve, he claimed.

What they say about the pay row

Tesco:​ “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.”

Unite: “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.”

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