Tesco stores in Northern Ireland face empty shelves ahead of Christmas, after workers reject ‘derisory’ pay offer and confirm all-out strike

Tesco warehouse and HGV drivers based in the Belfast depot and drivers in the Antrim depot will join with colleagues in Didcot and Doncaster in a strike action which poses the likelihood of severe disruption to Tesco supplies across Northern Ireland.  

The strike is a result of Tesco only being prepared to offer the workers a four per cent pay increase, which is well below the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of 6 per cent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tescos shelves filled throughout the pandemic. Tesco’s profits in 2021 are forecast to be between £2.5 and £2.6 billion. So surely the UK and Ireland’s largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members  a decent pay offer.

Unite prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. So make no mistake  we will be giving total support to our members at Tesco until this dispute is resolved.”

The Belfast and Antrim workers confirmed that they will be taking all-out strike action commencing 7am on Thursday 16th December. They will be joined by workers at depots in Didcot and Doncaster who commence a first 48 hours stoppage will begin on Thursday 16 December which will escalate to a five day pre-Christmas stoppage beginning on Monday 20 December.

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer

The workforce are particularly angry that Tesco is trying to force them into a real terms pay cut, due to the company’s incredible profitability, with Tesco recording an operating profit of £1.7 billion for 2020/21.

Unite regional officer George Brash warned the company: “This strike is a last resort for our members having exhausted all other options but they are refusing to accept a derisory, real terms cut to pay.

Even at this late stage, it is not too late for Tesco bosses to avoid severe disruption by making a greatly improved offer and returning to the negotiating table.”

The proposed strike action will leave shelves in Tesco stores across Northern Ireland empty ahead of Christmas.

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Third day of industrial action resumes with Unite members in Burke shipping and Foyle port carrying out simultaneous strikes.

Foyle port workers striking to win a cost of living increase and Burke Shipping workers demand pay parity with other dockers in Foyle and across Northern Ireland. 

Despite all-party council vote in support of striking dock workers employers refuse to resume pay negotiations.

Unite confirmed that its members at both Foyle Port and Burke Shipping Service, based in Foyle port, will conduct their second and third days of strike action at the port tomorrow [Monday, December 6th] with pickets going up from 7am.

On Thursday the all-party Governance and Strategic Planning committee of Derry City and Strabane District Council called for port employers to end the dispute by meeting the workers’ pay claim. But despite this, Foyle Port and Burke Shipping Services management continued to refuse to meet the workers’ pay claim.

In the last year Foyle port declared pre-tax profits of £1.3 million, Meanwhile the latest accounts for Burke Shipping Services show their pre-tax profits almost doubled in the first year of the lockdown and their parent company – Fane Valley Co-op – posted profits of more than £12 million last year – double that of the year previous.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, offered her full backing to the striking workers.

Port workers have played a vital role in ensuring the economy has continued to function over the last two years. They are entitled to receive decent and fair pay. The Foyle Port workers are striking to win a modest, inflation-proofed pay increase and the Burke Shipping workers are striking to win basic pay parity with others doing the same job as themselves.

Their employers are highly successful and profitable and can well afford to give their workers a decent wage. My union is pledged to defend the jobs pay and conditions of our members. The Foyle Port workers and those at Burke Shipping will have the full backing of Unite”.

Gareth Scott, Regional Officer

Unite Regional Officer for the workforce Gareth Scott challenged the employers on their stance.

Foyle Port bosses have made great play of their companys resilient performance and its profitability despite the lockdown; but amid surging inflation they offered their workers an insulting 0.4 percent increase. Meanwhile Burke Shipping Services refuse to pay their workers the same rate as other port workers or indeed port workers elsewhere in Northern Ireland.  

Unite is calling time on the idea that workers from the Northwest can be paid less than elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Londonderry port and harbour Commissioners and Burke Shipping Service both need to show respect to these workers and this community and meet their workforces pay claim in full. If not, the huge disruption to port operations that has resulted from the one-day strikes will escalate dramatically in coming days and weeks”, Mr Scott concluded.

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Simultaneous strikes to hit Foyle port complex tomorrow

Workers at Burke Shipping Services and Foyle Port demanding pay increase

Essential workers kept goods moving during pandemic

Unite members at Burke Shipping Services and Foyle Port will be taking strike action tomorrow (Monday) in pursuit of pay increases.  It will be the second day of strike action at Burke Shipping Services and the first at Foyle Port.  Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Gareth Scott said he expected the actions to significantly impact operations at the port complex following determined pickets by Burke Shipping Service workers on Friday:

“Our members working for both Burke Shipping Services and Foyle Port have kept goods moving throughout the pandemic.  Yet stevedores and warehouse workers at Burke Shipping Services are paid less than comparable workers in the sector, while dockers and warehouse workers at Foyle Port faced a pay freeze last year and are being asked to accept a derisory pay increase this year. 

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Burke Shipping Services workers striking today

Low-paid essential workers seek pay parity with rest of sector

Unite members working for Burke Shipping Services are taking strike action today (Friday) in pursuit of a pay increase to bring them into line with comparable workers in the sector.  Workers will take strike action again on Monday 29 November.  Burke Shipping Services is owned by the Fane Valley Cooperative.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Gareth Scott said:

“Our members have worked throughout the pandemic, performing essential work ranging from stevedoring to warehousing, and ensuring the smooth movement of goods.

“Yet the company has refused to engage meaningfully with us regarding our claim for a wage increase that would bring our members’ pay into line with the rest of the sector.

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Union members at Foyle Port to strike Monday 29th in protest against employers extending pay freeze.

Unite union survey shows almost every worker at the Port and their families are struggling to make ends meet and now face a second year of poverty pay.

November 24th: The dispute follows management’s decision to reject workers’ modest demand for a 2.1% pay increase this year, following a pay freeze last year.  The rejection of the union claim in effect extends last year’s pay freeze for another year and forces a pay cut on Foyle workers.

Trade union Unite, which represents workers at Foyle Port, has today (Wednesday) written to the Port and Harbour Commissioners outlining the background to strike action due to hit the port from Monday 29 November. 

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said:

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