The Unite union has urged Tesco to revise what it called a “pitiful” pay offer of 0% for 2015 and 1.5% for 2016 or risk industrial action in the run-up to Christmas in its distribution network.
More than 700 drivers and warehouse staff at distribution hubs in Belfast and Doncaster will begin being balloted for strike action next week.
It follows an overwhelming 91% rejection of the pay offer across the sites with the industrial action ballots closing on Friday 11 December 2015.
Unite claimed a vote in favour could see deliveries to Tesco stores in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland disrupted in the run-up to Christmas with knock-on effects felt across the UK.
“Our members have been working very hard to get Tesco to the position where the company can announce such promising results and be confident that it has turned the corner of the challenges of recent years,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones.
“We don’t want favours from the company but we believe that the current offer is far below what it can afford and what our members deserve. Unite members don’t want to disrupt anyone’s Christmas shopping but without a proper pay increase thousands of workers will not be able to enjoy their own Christmas in the way they deserve. We urge Tesco to revise its pitiful pay offer and avoid potential industrial action in the run-up to Christmas.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “For the past several months we have been engaged in dialogue with our unions over our normal annual pay negotiations in our distribution centres. A two-year pay proposal has been fully recommended for acceptance by Usdaw across 20 of our sites and colleagues are currently voting on this offer. Discussions continue with our colleagues represented by Unite and we have agreed to meet with all four of the Unite sites in their local bargaining groups by Wednesday of this week to continue the pay negotiations for these distribution centres.
“Ahead of these pre-agreed talks, two Unite sites have now notified Tesco of their intention to hold a ballot for industrial action.
“The approach from Unite is clearly counterproductive, as we have always been committed to pay discussions, and is surprising given Unite had initially agreed to new talks. We want all of our distribution colleagues to support our turnaround plans, and work together to better serve our customers.”