LONDON (AFP) – British supermarket giant Tesco faces the prospect of more empty shelves this Christmas as drivers and warehouse workers go on strike over pay, Unite trade union warned yesterday.
Unite said in a statement that more than 1,200 of its members will strike in the coming weeks, sparking more logistics woes for Britain’s biggest retailer.
“Tesco shoppers in many parts of the United Kingdom (UK) face empty shelves in the run-up to Christmas as members of Unite announced strike action in a dispute over pay,” the union said.
The workers are based at Tesco’s depots in Antrim and Belfast in Northern Ireland, and in Didcot and Doncaster in England.
Any industrial action would exacerbate an ongoing supply chain disruption, which has already sparked product shortages in the wake of Brexit and COVID.
Tesco has offered staff a four per cent pay increase.
That is “well below” Britain’s current Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation rate of six per cent, Unite added.
RPI includes housing costs and tends to be higher than the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is the Bank of England’s target measure which stands at 4.2 per cent.
Inflation, both in Britain and globally, is surging on the back of rocketting energy bills and resurgent post-lockdown demand.
However, Tesco insisted yesterday that its pay offer was the highest it has made in the last 25 years.
“Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers,” a spokesperson said.
“The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this.”