Around 500 warehouse staff employed at retailer Matalan’s distribution centre in Knowsley, Merseyside, are undertaking strike action today (Monday 19 August 2019) in an ongoing pay dispute.
The warehouse staff, who are members of trade union GMB, will conduct 24 hours of industrial action from 2pm today.
Based on a 51% turnout, 200 eligible GMB members voted in favour of strike action. A total of 236 individuals participated in the ballot, although 463 GMB members were entitled to.
The strike is in reaction to a recent pay offer made by Matalan’s management. GMB states that, if implemented, the pay deal would see some Matalan employees in Merseyside receive a 1.5% pay rise, which is equivalent to a real terms pay cut.
A source close to Matalan explained that the 1.5% pay rise relates specifically to around 25% of employees who work weekend shifts; this would increase their existing £11.14 an hour rate.
Matalan and GMB have been in pay negotiations since February 2019, but GMB has stated that further strike dates will be announced in due course.
Stephen Boden, organiser at GMB, said: “This industrial action is a result of Matalan management making a frankly insulting pay offer.
“How can [the organisation] expect hardworking staff to accept [a] real terms pay cut? It’s not too late for management to listen to [employees] and get back round the table with us to work out a fair deal.”
The distribution centre in Knowsley services e-commerce and store supplies across the north of England and Scotland.
A spokesperson at Matalan added: “[While] it is reassuring that the vast majority of those working in the Knowsley distribution centre did not vote for industrial action, we are deeply disappointed that even against the recommendation of their own union, following over five months of negotiations, a small portion of union members voted in favour of industrial action.
“Our offer of a 4.7% pay increase for all of our distribution centre staff on core shifts was the largest our [organisation] has ever offered without any other changes to [terms and conditions]. In addition, it is well above inflation and cost of living increases as well as [among] the highest offered in our sector.
“We are proud to be a major employer in the North West, centred around our Knowsley headquarters, and constantly strive to balance the needs of our employees and their long-term job security with the wider needs of the business. We will do everything possible to minimise disruption to our colleagues and customers.”