The prospect of shoppers being faced with empty shelves this Christmas has receded as members of Unite have been made an improved offer in the dispute over pay.
Unite, the UK’s leading union, announced earlier this week that its members employed at Tesco distribution centres in Doncaster, Antrim, Belfast, Didcot would be staging a series of strikes both before and after Christmas.
Following that announcement, fresh talks with the company were held and an improved offer was made.
The workers have been offered a minimum of a 5.5 per cent increase backdated to July 2021 – the anniversary date for annual pay increases - and an additional 0.5 per cent from February 2022.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tesco’s improved offer shows what can be achieved by our members standing together. Given that the company has forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5 billion an improved offer is the least Tesco workers could expect".
“Unite is the union which always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first and in doing so it is consistently securing improved pay deals for its members.”
In addition Unite has secured an agreement with Tesco for a formal dialogue on revising the current system of legacy and new generation contracts. If agreed this would create a single pay scale for all the work being undertaken in the distribution centres.
Unite was also able to secure an increase in overtime at the Doncaster distribution centre and an increase in holiday entitlement (one bank holiday and one standard holiday) for the workers at Belfast.
Unite will now ballot its members on the deal and is recommending its acceptance.
If the deal is rejected by the members then fresh strike action will be announced but that is unlikely to be before January 2022.
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.”
The negotiations held today did not encompass the Unite members employed at the Livingstone distribution centre in Scotland who yesterday (Monday 6 December) also announced strike action. A further update about this dispute is expected in the coming days.
Members of the shopworkers union USDAW, employed at Tesco distribution centres have also voted for strike action. They are covered by separate negotiations, which it is understood will be held later this week.
Workers in Doncaster had originally voted to walk out for 48 hours from December 16-17 and then again from December 20-25.
Further industrial action was set for the New Year, with fears that the walk outs would leave gaps on the shelves for shoppers over the festive period with workers at warehouses across the country involved in the strike action.