West Lothian Tesco depot strike could hit Christmas orders

Tesco warehouse workers and drivers are to stage a series of strikes in the coming weeks in a dispute over pay.

More than 1,000 staff who are members of Unite will take industrial action in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster, will take industrial action.

Workers at the Livingston depot, the largest in Europe, have also been balloted on taking action in the run-up to Christmas with the outcome of the vote to be announced on Monday.

Tesco has been accused "unlawfully" by threatening to axe staff and cut pay over the dispute which could see it experience problems fulfilling its Christmas deliveries.

Workers at Europe's largest Tesco distribution centre, in Livingston, have been balloted for industrial action.

Trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) initially threatened to start action at Livingston on December 20 as Christmas online orders are due to be shipped out.

Tesco had offered a 4% pay rise, which is below the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of 6%.

The current consumer prices index (CPI) is 4.2%.

.Tesco said its offer was one of the highest awards made within its distribution business in the last 25 years.

But 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.

“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.”

Workers at the Didcot and Doncaster sites will strike for 48 hours from 6am on December 16, followed by a further five-day stoppage from December 20.

More strikes will be held at the two sites after Christmas.

Unite members at the Antrim and Belfast Tesco distribution centres will launch an all-out, continuous strike from 7am on December 16.

If the workforce in Livingston vote for industrial action they will be likely to join the strike action before Christmas, said the union.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “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.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “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.”

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