Source: Iceland Foods

The majority of the affected staff work in a site serving Iceland’s ambient supply chain, The Grocer understands

Workers at two warehouses that supply Iceland stores in the south west of England are preparing to strike ahead of the Christmas period.

Around 150 workers employed by logistics company GXO, and represented by Unite, are currently balloting ahead of potential industrial action, after rejecting a two-year pay offer described by the union as “below inflation”.

The two warehouses, which are both in Swindon and managed by GXO, supply frozen and ambient products to Iceland and Food Warehouse stores across the south west of England. The majority of the affected staff are based in the ambient warehouse, The Grocer understands.

The ballot is set to close in two weeks and strike action would begin in December, lasting potentially into the new year. An earlier consultive ballot by the union indicated a willingness among workers to strike, Unite said.

If strikes go ahead it could “cripple” GXO’s ability to restock Iceland stores in the region, potentially leading to shortages on shelves and in freezers during the Christmas period, Unite said.

“GXO is a multinational company with billions of pounds of revenue yet pays our members little more than the minimum wage,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. “GXO needs to urgently reconsider its pay offer to the very workers who help generate its income.”

GXO manages five logistics sites on behalf of Iceland, including in Warrington and Livingston, under a partnership signed in 2016. The pay dispute only relates to operations at the two distribution centres in Swindon.

The Grocer understands all of the staff concerned work within the Iceland supply chain, meaning no other retailers are affected.

A GXO spokesman said: “We believe our proposal is very fair.” He added that GXO had successfully agreed pay negotiations with all but the two bargaining groups at Swindon.

“We remain committed to maintaining an open dialogue with our employees and their representatives. We will work closely with Iceland to ensure their stores are correctly supplied for the Christmas period,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Iceland said that the supermarket was “working closely” with GXO regarding the proposed action. 

“We are confident that there will be no disruption to our supply chain, and customers will have full access to our range of quality products at great prices over Christmas,” she said.