Tesco confident it can 'deliver Christmas' amid Doncaster depot strikes

Supermarket giant Tesco has said it is confident it will keep shelves stocked this Christmas, despite strikes by workers at its Doncaster depot.

By Darren Burke
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 12:24 pm

Workers at the Middle Bank distribution depot have announced eight days of walk-outs in the lead up to Christmas as well as strikes around the New Year period, with fellow workers around the country also walking out in a row over pay.

Unions Usdaw and Unite have warned shoppers to expect gaps on the shelves – but Tesco has said it will still ‘deliver Christmas’ to shoppers and has contingency plans in place to tackle the industrial action.

Usdaw said the dispute involves 5,000 members at several warehouses across the country who will take industrial action after rejecting a 4% annual pay rise.

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Workers at Tesco depots across the UK will go on strike this Christmas and New Year.

Joanne McGuinness, of Usdaw, said: “Our members have sent a clear message, with this high turnout and strong support for industrial action. We hope that the company is listening and that they will return to the negotiating table with a better deal that is acceptable to our members.

“Retail distribution workers are key workers who delivered essential services throughout the pandemic, which in turn delivered a 16.5% increase in profit to Tesco for the first half of the year. 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 6%, the company needs to do better.

“Industrial action and possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas can be avoided. It needs the company to engage positively in talks with Usdaw and we stand ready to reopen negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Unite said more than 1,000 of its members at depots in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster will take industrial action after rejecting the same pay deal.

The union said the 4% pay rise was “well below” the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of 6%.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Unite is taking strike action as a last resort having exhausted all other options.

“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.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers.

“The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this, and is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years, building on our highly competitive pay and rewards package.

“We welcome the decision by our colleagues at the sites who have voted against industrial action.

“We are disappointed that some have voted to proceed, and we have 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.”

There have been a number of strikes at the Doncaster Tesco depot in recent years.