Christmas shortages possible after Tesco workers ballot on industrial action at Hampshire distribution centre

A union officer has issued a warning of Christmas shortages after Tesco distribution centre workers ballot on industrial action.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:02 pm

Staff at the distribution centre in Southampton could go on strike after a row over pay and working conditions.

Tesco’s latest offer was overwhelmingly rejected by members of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers union (Usdaw).

Joe McGuinness, national officer at Usdaw, the fifth biggest union in the UK, said: ‘Retail distribution workers are key workers who delivered essential services throughout the pandemic, which in turn delivered a 16.5 per cent increase in profit to Tesco for the first half of the year.

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A ballot has been issued at a distribution in centre in Hampshire, where workers could potentially go on strike if Tesco don't offer them improved terms. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

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‘These workers deserve a decent pay rise as their reward for what they have done and continue to do day in day out; couple that with the rising cost of living and inflation currently running at six per cent, the company needs to do better.‘The potential of industrial action and possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas can be avoided, if the company comes back to the table with a better offer that is acceptable to our members.’

Nine Tesco distribution centres across the UK are facing potential work stoppages.

Alongside Southampton, these include Daventry, Goole, Hinckley, Lichfield, Livingston, Peterborough, and two sites at Magor in south Wales.

Ballots are currently ongoing and will last until December 6.

If union members vote in favour of the ballot, and the supermarket chain doesn’t offer better terms, strike action will take place on the week of December 20.

A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘We are disappointed that a decision has been taken to ballot for potential industrial action at a number of our distribution sites.

‘We have put forward a fair and competitive pay offer to our colleagues, which is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years.’

USDAW has over 370,000 members, primarily in the retail sector but also in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.

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