Tesco distribution workers in Peterborough to vote on strike action ahead of Christmas

Workers at Tesco’s distribution centre in Peterborough could vote to take strike action days before Christmas.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 5:58 am
Tesco distribution centre, Parnwell EMN-211122-142447009

Staff at the supermarket chain’s distribution hub in Staplee Way, Parnwell, are today (Monday) being balloted about the use of industrial action in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Union leaders warn that if workers do vote to go on strike, the action will take place from December 20 and could lead to food shortages in stores just before Christmas.

The Peterborough centre is one of nine across the UK that is being balloted after USDAW union members rejected a number of pay offers,including the latest one of a four per cent per hour pay rise, from supermarket bosses.

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Tesco distribution centre, Parnwell EMN-211122-142459009

Usdaw has today started two formal industrial action ballots covering all nine distribution sites. The voting will go on until December 6.

Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw National Officer, said: “Our members in nine distribution centres have rejected Tesco’s latest pay offers, so we are balloting them on industrial action.

“Retail distribution workers are key workers who delivered essential services throughout the pandemic, which in turn delivered a 16.5 per cent increase in profit to Tesco for the first half of the year.

“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.

She added: “The potential of industrial action and possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas can be avoided, if the company comes back to the table with a better offer that is acceptable to our members.

“If members vote in favour it is intended that, unless the company makes an improved offer, strike action will take place in the week of December 20.”

The other centres are at Daventry, Goole, Hinckley, Lichfield, Livingston, Magor, where there are two sites, and Southampton.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that a decision has been taken to ballot for potential industrial action at a number of our distribution sites.

“We have put forward a fair and competitive pay offer to our colleagues, which is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years.”

A letter sent to staff by Tesco managers states that the offer of a four cent increase is one of the highest one-year offers made to distribution staff in 25 years.

The letter states the offer reflects the extraordinary efforts made by staff during the Covid-19 crisis and also covers inflation and the complexities of the labour market.

But it warns: “If strike action takes place and we do not deliver stock on time to stores, we put our business and the future of your site at risk.”