Tesco faces empty shelves at Xmas as strike threat looms
Tesco warehouse workers and drivers are preparing to hold a series of strikes over pay which could result in shortages in stores across the country, their union said on Monday.
The Unite union said more than 1,000 of its members - based at depots in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster, would be taking industrial action after rejecting a 4% pay increase “well below” the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of 6% and compared with the consumer prices index measure of 4.2%.
Unite said industrial action meant "shoppers in many parts of the UK face empty shelves in the run-up to Christmas".
"Unite is taking strike action as a last resort having exhausted all other options,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones said.
"Even at this late stage Tesco could still avoid severe disruption in its stores by returning to the negotiating table and making a greatly improved offer."
Supermarkets are already battling with supply chain disruption due to Brexit and the Covid pandemic, with the industry warning of a reduced Christmas offering in UK stores.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said her members “have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tesco's shelves filled throughout the pandemic”.
"At the very least the UK's largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members a decent pay offer."
Workers at the Didcot and Doncaster sites will strike for 48 hours from 6am on 16 December, to be followed by a further five-day stoppage from 20 December.
Additional strikes will be held at the two sites after Christmas. Unite members at the Antrim and Belfast Tesco distribution centres will launch a continuous strike from 7am on 16 December.
Tesco said it had contingency plans in place to help mitigate any impacts. "We have worked hard to deliver Christmas for our customers and are confident we will be able to fulfil our plans," the company said.