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Tesco set for Christmas shortages amid strike action

Didcot and Doncaster sites will see an initial 48 hours stoppage beginning at 6am on 16 December, followed by a further five day pre-Christmas stoppage beginning on 20 December

Tesco shoppers in many parts of the UK “face empty shelves” in the run-up to Christmas as members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, announced strike action in a dispute over pay.

It revealed the strike is a result of Tesco offering the workers “just a four percent pay increase”, which is “well below” the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of six percent.

The workers, who include warehouse and HGV drivers, are based at Tesco’s depots in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster.

The union said Didcot and Doncaster sites will see an initial 48 hours stoppage beginning at 6am on Thursday 16 December, followed by a further five day pre-Christmas stoppage beginning on Monday 20 December.

There will also be a further a 48 hour stoppage beginning on Thursday 30 December and a three day stoppage beginning on 5 January 2022 at Doncaster and Didcot.

Unite members at the Antrim and Belfast Tesco distribution centres will begin an all-out continuous strike from 7am on Thursday 16 December.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Our 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.

“Unite always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be giving its full and total support to our members at Tesco until this dispute is resolved.”

A Tesco spokesperson added: “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.”

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

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