United Kingdom

Lorry drivers and warehouse workers at Tesco distribution centres REJECT 2.5% pay increase offer 

Tesco could face empty shelves this Christmas after lorry drivers and warehouse workers at four distribution centres have rejected a pay offer, their union has announced.

Unite said its members voted against a 2.5 per cent offer, arguing it was lower than the RPI rate of inflation so represented a real-terms pay cut.

If members vote for strike action then the supermarket giant could see empty shelves this winter which could potentially affect the Christmas period.

Supermarket shelves have been empty in recent weeks as a result of a shortage in lorry drivers

The distribution centres involved are in Belfast, Didcot, Doncaster and Thurrock

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: 'Tesco's staff have kept working throughout the pandemic and that alone surely means they deserve a decent pay rise. Instead, they are being offered what is, in effect, a pay cut.'

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: 'The arrogance and disdain for its workforce currently being displayed by Tesco's management is shocking; they have either forgotten, don't know or don't care that the company's success is due to the hard work and diligence of its workers.

'If full industrial action resulting in empty shelves does follow, then consumers should understand that this dispute is entirely of Tesco's own making.'

The distribution centres involved are in Belfast, Didcot, Doncaster and Thurrock.

Tesco said the offer is its best and final one after the negotiations.

In a statement, Tesco said: 'We are in ongoing talks with Unite representatives regarding pay and are working closely with them to find a resolution.

'We look forward to meeting with them again soon to work towards an agreement on a pay award for our colleagues in those 4 distribution centres.'

The move could cause even more disruption and chaos to Britain's supply chain.

Supermarket shelves have been empty in recent weeks as a result of a shortage in lorry drivers, Brexit red-tape and coronavirus restrictions.

Unite said its members voted against a 2.5 per cent offer, arguing it was lower than the RPI rate of inflation so represented a real-terms pay cut

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he could not guarantee there will be enough lorries on Britain's roads this Christmas to deliver all presents in time.

He told the Commons last week that it was 'not in the hands' of the Government to make the guarantee as he answered questions on the HGV staff shortage.

Mr Shapps said Brexit has nothing to do with the driver shortage, insisting the pandemic is the 'number one cause' for the shortfall of 90,000 drivers across the UK.

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