Warning of empty shelves at Tescos across Northern Ireland after ‘offensive’ four percent pay offer sparks UK-wide strike ballot

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer

Unite to ballot lorry drivers and warehouse workers at Tesco Belfast distribution centre on strike action

Union is balloting 3,500 Tesco lorry driver and warehouse workers on strike action at the Belfast, Didcot, Doncaster and Thurrock regional distribution centres. The decision to ballot follows rejection of a meagre four per cent offer was rejected.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tesco made more than £3 billion during the pandemic yet pretends it cannot afford to pay the workers responsible for such staggering profits a decent pay rise.

“Offering four per cent is offensive when RPI inflation is running at nearly five per cent. If our members vote to strike, Tesco can expect Unite to go all the way to support their fight for a fair pay rise.”

The strike ballot in Belfast distribution centre will open this Tuesday [2 November] and close on 26th  November.

Unite warns that any strike action at the Tescos distribution centre in Belfast is likely to hugely exacerbate the pre-existing trade difficulties in Northern Ireland and result in bare shelves at supermarkets across the region. 

Unite regional officer for Tesco workers in Northern Ireland, George Brash, said: “This latest offer by Tesco’s bosses shows their disdain for their workforce. On the back of huge profits – which leapt by 16.6 percent in the first half of this year and look likely to increase still further – they offered their workers a below inflation pay increase.

“Given the existing difficulties in trade from GB to Northern Ireland, any strike action in the Belfast hub would likely have a devastating impact on Tescos operations here; we would be looking at bare shelves at stores across the region in the run up to Christmas.

“If there are empty shelves leading up to Christmas then consumers should understand that the fault is entirely of Tesco’s own making where shameful greed and profiteering is valued above transport and warehouse workers who are the blood of the supply chain, working tirelessly through a global pandemic to feed the nation. Tescos need to pay their workers properly and avoid unnecessary disruption in the mouth of Christmas”, Mr Brash finished.

Unite is lending its support to the Take a Break campaign on Monday [1 November] by HGV drivers for safety, decency and dignity to be restored to the haulage industry.

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