Tesco has become the latest supermarket to be hit by the on-going unrest among distribution workers and unions.
Asda and Morrisons distribution centres have already been caught up in various pay and employment disputes for months and now the T&G union has been organising protests outside Tesco stores in support of agency workers in Tesco’s depot in Dublin.
They have complained of lower wage rates than contracted workers and union members were due to protest outside stores in Dublin, London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Oxford as The Grocer went to press.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “This issue spans every
industry. We offered to speak to the T&G about it, but they said no. Targeting Tesco and taking direct action which disrupts our customers and staff is not a constructive way to deal with it.”
Tesco has already caused
union anger over the use of hi-tech scanning equipment in depots, including at Thurrock.
Meanwhile, the T&G and GMB unions have given Morrisons official notice of a ballot for strike action that could cripple the retailer’s distribution network. A decision is expected by the end of this month.
“Our workers have had enough of the ‘Morrisons’ way’,” said GMB national officer Jude Brimble. “They were unhappy under the Safeway management but cannot abide the chaotic Morrisons style that seeks to cut pay and corners and undermine the long-term stability of the company.”
The unions want joint national talks with Morrisons after the breakdown of regional discussions and the rejection of a 3.2% pay rise. Morrisons said their approach was “perplexing”, as it had offered national talks to each union.
Meanwhile, the GMB is set to continue its pay dispute with Asda after 400 workers from its Washington depot went on a three-day strike last week. Hours before the strike, Asda issued 170 redundancy notices at the depot, which services 100 stores. This will be cut to 35 in a restructure of the distribution network. An Asda spokesman said he was optimistic that the 315 jobs originally placed at risk could be cut to 230. Next year, Asda will create new jobs in the area when it opens a George depot.
Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons are all on recruitment drives. After Sainsbury’s national press campaign to woo IT and supply chain staff, Tesco has taken out ads to recruit staff for distribution centres and stores and Morrisons has started a trade press ad recruitment drive.
Fiona McLelland