Tesco warehouse workers and lorry drivers have announced plans to stage a series of strikes in the weeks leading up to Christmas in a dispute over pay.
More than 1,000 of staff at depots in Antrim and Belfast in Northern Ireland; Livingston, Scotland; and Didcot and Doncaster in England, will take part in industrial action. This will reportedly begin at 7am on 16 December at the two Northern Irish distribution centres.
According to the union Unite, the supermarket giant had offered workers a 4% pay rise, which it described as being “well below” the current retail price index inflation rate of 6%, and also lower than the current consumer prices index of 4.2%.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham commented that as staff have “gone above and beyond the call of duty” to keep Tesco’s shelves filled throughout the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, they should at the very least receive a “decent” pay offer.
“Unite always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be giving its full and total support to our members at Tesco until this dispute is resolved,” she said.
The union’s national officer, Adrian Jones, added: “Unite is taking strike action as a last resort having exhausted all other options. Even at this late stage, Tesco could still avoid severe disruption in its stores by returning to the negotiating table and making a greatly improved offer.”
According to a Tesco spokesperson, the supermarket acknowledges that employees have worked tirelessly during the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers.
“The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this, and is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years, building on our highly competitive pay and rewards package. We welcome the decision by our colleagues at the sites who have voted against industrial action,” the spokesperson added.