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 Tesco’s 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.
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.