Tesco staff at Daventry distribution centre vote to join pre-Christmas strike over pay
Supermarket giant confident it can avoid empty shelves during run up to festive season
Workers at Tesco's Daventry distribution centre are among those who have voted to strike the week before Christmas, sparking fears of empty shelves in county supermarkets.
They will be among around 5,000 members of grocery workers' union Usdaw at nine sites joining industrial action at four other warehouses after rejecting the chain's offer of a four percent pay increase.
Staff are set to walk out on December 20 until Christmas Eve, affecting more more than half of Tesco’s 22 distribution centres, if the company does not improve its pay offer.
Usdaw is refusing to say how many of its members work at the Daventry site but the union's National Officer, Joanne McGuinness, said: “Retail distribution workers are key workers who delivered essential services throughout the pandemic, which in turn delivered a 16.5 percent 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 6 percent, 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.”
“Our members have sent a clear message, with this high turnout and strong support for industrial action.
“We hope that the company is listening and that they will return to the negotiating table with a better deal that is acceptable to our members."
Workers at Daventry, Goole, Hinckley, Lichfield, Livingstone, Magor, Peterborough and Southampton vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
Meanwhile, fellow more than 1,000 members of the Unite union will also take industrial action at depots in Northern Ireland, Didcot and Doncaster after rejecting the same pay deal.
A Tesco spokesperson told the Independent: “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, 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.
“We are disappointed that some have voted to proceed, and we have contingency plans in place to help mitigate any impacts.
“We have worked hard to deliver Christmas for our customers and are confident we will be able to fulfil our plans.”