Tesco depot staff suspend pre-Christmas pay strikes

Tesco depot staff suspend pre-Christmas pay strikes
© Getty Images

Plans for 1,200 Tesco distribution centre workers to strike have been suspended, the Unite union has said.

The union, which had proposed several strikes ahead of Christmas, said it would recommend members to accept an improved pay offer in a new ballot.

Originally Tesco offered a 4% rise, now workers will get get 5.5% backdated to July plus a further 0.5% in February.

However, Usdaw union is yet to agree a deal with Tesco, after its 5,000 members also rejected the 4% rise.

It is understood USDAW negotiators held talks on Wednesday and will meet the supermarket again on Monday.

Both unions voted for industrial action at a total of 13 of the Tesco’s distribution centres after they rejected a 4% annual pay rise.

Unite members, which included warehouse staff and HGV drivers, had voted for industrial action on Monday at sites in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster.

The union said the offer amounted to a “real terms pay cut” due to inflation and warned strikes could lead to shortages of some goods, at a time when supermarkets are already struggling to source what they need amid supply chain issues.

Tesco previously said its 4% offer was fair. The BBC has contacted the supermarket for comment following the new deal.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the new pay agreement was the “least Tesco workers could expect”, given the supermarket has “forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5bn”.

Unite said it had also secured an increase in overtime at the Doncaster distribution centre and an increase in holiday entitlement for the workers in Belfast.

However, the talks did not include members employed at the Livingstone distribution centre in Scotland, with an update on negotiations expected in the coming days.

Members will now vote on the deal, but if it is rejected, any new strike action would be unlikely to take place before January 2022, Unite said.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Right from the beginning of this dispute Unite has been clear that Tesco could afford to make a more generous offer and that has proved to be the case.

“It is now up to Unite’s members to decide if the proposed deal meets their expectations.”

Tesco is the UK’s largest supermarket, with a consistent share of more than 25% of the market.

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