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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Tesco depot staff suspend pre-Christmas pay strikes


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 to members in a new ballot to accept an improved pay offer.

Tesco originally offered a 4% raise; now, employees will receive a 5.5 percent raise retroactive to July, plus an additional 0.5 percent in February.

However, the Usdaw union has yet to reach an agreement with Tesco after its 5,000 members also rejected the 4% raise.

USDAW negotiators are said to have met with the supermarket on Wednesday and will meet again on Monday.

After rejecting a 4% annual pay increase, both unions voted for strike action at 13 of Tesco’s distribution centres.

Members of Unite, which included warehouse workers and HGV drivers, voted for strike action on Monday at sites in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot, and Doncaster.

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

Tesco previously stated that its 4% offer was reasonable. Following the announcement of the new deal, the BBC contacted the supermarket for comment.

The new pay agreement was the “least Tesco workers could expect,” according to Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, given the supermarket’s “forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5 billion.”

Unite also stated that it had obtained an increase in overtime at the Doncaster distribution centre as well as an increase in holiday entitlement for workers in Belfast.

However, members employed at the Livingstone distribution centre in Scotland were excluded from the talks, with an update on negotiations expected in the coming days.

Members will now vote on the agreement, but if it is rejected, any new strike action is unlikely to occur before January 2022, according to Unite.

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

“It is now up to the members of Unite to decide whether the proposed deal meets their expectations.”

Tesco is the largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, with a market share of more than 25%.

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