Asda lorry

Source: Getty

Nearly 80% of the warehouse and clerical workers and LGV drivers polled said they were ready to take industrial action over pay

Thousands of Asda distribution workers moved closer to strike action today after rejecting the supermarket’s latest pay offer.

The GMB union revealed an overwhelming majority of staff working in Asda distribution centres and clerical operations had voted against accepting the offer.

It said almost 70% of the 8,000 GMB members polled turned down the offer, whilst nearly 80% of the warehouse and clerical workers and LGV drivers said they were ready to take industrial action over pay.

The GMB will now meet with members to discuss next steps, it said.

The ballot began earlier this month after Asda offered base rate increases to warehouse and clerical staff ranging from 4.98% to 6.10% and 6.49% to 7.53% for transport staff

Before Christmas, 94% of GMB members indicated they were prepared to take strike action after accusing Asda of failing to make a “meaningful offer”.

“The UK is facing the worst cost of living crisis for a generation,” said Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer.

“Inflation is rampant and energy prices are out of control.

“Yet Asda workers are being taken for mugs with a below-inflation pay offer that basically means a real-terms pay cut.

“They’re not going to take it lying down – it’s now up to Asda bosses to come back with a reasonable offer and avert the threat of industrial action.”

However, Asda stressed that as part of its recognition agreement with the union, there was an established industrial dispute process which would mean several stages of negotiation before any strike.

It said the National Recognition Agreement, signed by Asda and the GMB in 2012, sets out a clear framework for conciliation and arbitration to avoid industrial action.

As part of the dispute resolution procedure contained in the agreement, the next steps include further meetings between Asda and the GMB and at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to try and resolve outstanding matters, it stressed.

“We value the key role our colleagues play to keep our stores well-stocked and we have negotiated in good faith with the GMB to make a fair, competitive and sustainable pay offer that recognises rising inflation,” said Jon Parry, VP Asda Logistics Services.

“We are disappointed this has been rejected and we expect the GMB to honour the National Recognition Agreement, signed by both parties in 2012, as this provides an agreed framework to resolve outstanding matters.”

Meanwhile more than 150 workers at Riverside Bakery are being balloted for strike action over a pay offer which union bosses claim would leave staff worse off by reducing overtime and premium rates. The bakery produces quiches, flans and savoury tarts for major retailers including Aldi, Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is a pay cut disguised as a rise. It would leave our members, who are already struggling with low pay and soaring inflation, worse off.”