Allied Bakeries

Drivers at Allied Bakeries’ Kingsmill depot at West Bromwich are threatening to strike after being offered a “paltry” pay deal, union Unite has warned.

More than 100 drivers at the depot, which supplies 1.5 million loaves a week to customers including Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, are being balloted this week for strike action following Allied Bakeries' offer of a 2% pay rise.

The union is arguing that the pay offer is not only below the rate of inflation but also fails to bring Kingsmill drivers' pay-rates up to those offered by competitors such as Sainsbury's and Culina.

Unite lead officer for the food sector Joe Clarke said: “What we have here is a highly profitable global company paying our Kingsmill members well below what competitors are paying their drivers for the same work.

“In some cases, the differential is as much as £14,000 a year which is totally unacceptable.

“Then it has the nerve to add insult to injury by offering a paltry pay deal far below the current rate of inflation. Our members want a fair offer that reflects the cost of living.”

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Clarke warned that the depot could face losing its drivers if it failed to raise pay rates.

He told MT: “They have their heads in the sand. This offer does not recognise the shortage of drivers and with the Brexit situation that will only get worse so unless they make their pay rates more competitive, drivers will walk.”

The union is also warning that if the strike goes ahead at the West Bromwich depot, it could create create “havoc” by causing bread shortages ahead of Christmas.

Clarke said: “So you will have a situation where loaves will be coming off the production lines, but no one will be delivering them.”

A spokeswoman for Allied Bakeries said: “Should industrial action at our West Bromwich site go ahead, we are confident that we will still be in a position to deliver fresh bread to all our grocery retail customers.

"We have robust contingency plans in place, and are changing a number of delivery routes to mitigate the risk of any disruption.

“We’ve been discussing possible pay agreements with our delivery drivers and their union representatives at West Brom since May. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet come to a settlement and are naturally disappointed that the union has now decided to initiate a ballot of their members at the site for industrial action.

“As a responsible and respected local employer we are always open to discussion with our employees,” she said.