Morrisons staff british fruit and veg warehouse

Source: Morrisons

Hundreds of Morrisons warehouse workers are being balloted for strike action over changes to their pensions and take-home pay.

The Unite union said staff at the Cheshire and Wakefield warehouses, including stock controllers, cooks, canteen staff and administrators, would be around £500 worse off a year due to forced-through changes to their pensions.

It claimed workers were being forced to increase their own pension contributions while the supermarket giant reduced its own contributions by the same amount.

The union said workers were also being compelled to adopt a new, unpopular “pick rate” and had lost a service award, while seeing enforced changes to roles, which would result in workers being “significantly worse off” in their pay packets.

Approximately 1,000 Unite members are involved in the ballot, which opened yesterday and will close on 9 May. Should it be successful, and if no concessions are made by the employer, industrial action will take place this spring and summer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is focused on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and these unmerited changes to workers’ pensions will leave our members worse off every month.

“Unite will not stand for such behaviour from any employer, let alone one like Morrisons who is raking in massive profits in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Its flagrant profiteering and then cutting our members’ take-home pay is a disgrace.”

The union has accused Morrisons of “fleecing” staff with pension changes that will lower its contributions from 5% to 3%, and would increase the amount its workers pay from 3% to 5% by 2025.

The changes will affect 60,000 hourly paid employees.

Morrisons declined to comment on the vote but has previously defended its changes. The union action concerns two out of seven of its UK logistics hubs.

It is, however, among several retailers in the firing line for union action, amid unrest over pay. 

This week the GMB announced Asda staff in Wealdstone would vote on strike action over a series of workplace issues, with dozens of its members to take part in the vote between 26 April and 17 May.

It said staff were angry at a series of issues including cuts in hours, lack of equal pay and the absence of collective bargaining with the GMB.

Wealdstone is the fifth Asda store to become embroiled in industrial action after workers in Gosport and Wisbech walked out in recent weeks and staff at Brighton Holingbury and Lowestoft voted to strike.

GMB regional organiser Keith Dixon said: “Asda Wealdstone – along with stores across the UK – is falling apart.

“Bosses are stripping the supermarket to the bones and workers are paying the inevitable price. 

“Meanwhile, an estimated eight million worker hours have been cut across Asda stores, so things are only going to get worse.

“Enough is enough – Asda workers in Wealdstone are making their voices heard.”

Asda has strongly defended its record of staff investment, having released a record £150m investment in pay last month.

Meanwhile the spotlight is set to turn on to Tesco next week as the Supreme Court hears an Usdaw challenge to its alleged use of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

The union Usdaw and law firm Thompsons are due to appear to challenge the supermarket on 23 and 24 April in the final stage of a long-running legal battle.

A similar case involving workers at the Livingston site has been stayed in the Scottish courts until proceedings have concluded in England.