Source: Iceland

The two affected sites supply products to Iceland stores in the south west of England

Iceland Foods has said it is “confident” it will avoid major disruption to its stores this Christmas, despite staff at two of its distribution centres being set to walk out.

Last month, Unite the union said workers employed by GXO – which manages the two sites in Swindon – had rejected a “below inflation” pay offer, and were considering strike action. The union has now confirmed that its members have voted to strike and will walk out from 14 to 18 December, and from 27 to 30 December.

The two sites – at Swindon Symmetry Park and Swindon Penzance Drive – handle ambient, chilled and frozen products for Iceland and Food Warehouse stores across the south west of England, leading to concerns stores could face disruption during what is the supermarket’s busiest period of the year.

However, the supermarket has insisted stores will remain unaffected. 

“Iceland Foods is working closely with GXO regarding the industrial action at their Swindon distribution centre,” said an Iceland spokeswoman.

“Through our eight additional depots across the country, we are confident there will be no disruption to our supply chain over the festive period, and Iceland customers will have full access to our range of quality products at great prices over Christmas.”

In total, 144 workers are set to strike. The Grocer understands that GXO employs around 700 people across both Swindon sites, though the company has not confirmed how many of these work within the affected warehouses.

Swindon is the only one of the four locations managed by GXO for Iceland that will be affected by the strikes. All those set to strike are Unite members. 

“We have listened to our colleagues and put a revised offer forward to Unite which offers extra cash to all colleagues and a higher incentive payment to those who work in the freezer area,” said a GXO spokesman.

“We are disappointed Unite have not allowed their members a say on this enhanced offer, which we think is fair and reflects their concerns. We’ll continue to work with Iceland to ensure there is no disruption to supply chain over the festive period.”

No other supermarkets are thought to be affected by the action. Negotiations, which include a further pay offer, are understood to be underway between Unite members and the logistics company.

“GXO have refused to make an offer that meets our members needs or expectations and now, in the run-up to their busiest period of the year, workers will be heading to the picket line,” said Unite regional officer Paddy Brennan.

“Unite will be backing our members in their fight for a pay deal that addresses the cost of living crisis they are suffering. Without them, mum won’t be going to Iceland for Christmas this year.”