Thousands of disgruntled Tesco distribution workers across the country are to strike in the run-up to Christmas.
Up to 5,000 Tesco workers in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) could take part in industrial action while some 1,200 workers in union Unite are also preparing to strike.
Members of both unions are unhappy with the offer of a four per cent pay rise, with Union dubbing the offer a“real terms pay cut” due to inflation.
Union bosses urged the company to negotiate to avoid empty shelves in the festive season, amid the supply chain challenges already rocking the food and drink sector.
Tesco said it had provided a fair offer and would mitigate any disruption for customers.
Usdaw gave notice of a stoppage starting on 20 December until Christmas Eve, across nine centres including in Peterborough and Southampton.
Yesterday the Unite union said its members at Tesco centres in Didcot and Doncaster would strike this month.
Up to 1,200 workers, including warehouse staff and HGV drivers, have opposed the supermarket’s pay offer.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tesco’s shelves filled throughout the pandemic. At the very least the UK’s largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members a decent pay offer.”
Sites in Didcot and Doncaster will see an initial 48 hour stoppage beginning at 6am on 16 December, in addition to a five day stoppage from 20 December,
There will also be a 48-hour strike on 30 December and a three-day stoppage on 5 January at the two sites.
Union members at sites in Antrim and Belfast will start a continuous strike from 7am on 16 December.
Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer, said workers were a crucial driver of the company delivering a 16.5 per cent increase in profit for the first half of the year.
She added: “These workers deserve a decent pay rise as their reward for what they have done and continue to do day in day out – couple that with the rising cost of living and inflation currently running at six per cent, the company needs to do better.
“Industrial action and possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas can be avoided. It needs the company to engage positively in talks with Usdaw and we stand ready to reopen negotiations.”
A Tesco spokesperson added: “Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers. The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this.
“We welcome the decision by our colleagues at the sites who have voted against industrial action. We are disappointed that some have voted to proceed, and we have contingency plans in place to help mitigate any impacts.”