Asda has accused the GMB of going far above and beyond a pay deal agreed earlier this year after the union said the supermarket had failed to offer distribution staff a meaningful pay offer.

Strike action after Christmas could now be on the cards after the union branded Asda’s latest pay deal a “disgrace” and opened a ballot for members.

It said the offer was a kick in the teeth for workers with inflation currently running rampant.

But Asda has hit back, saying it had already agreed a two-year pay deal this year, which was backdated to May 2020 and ran until May 2022"

An Asda spokesman said: “The GMB has recently made an additional pay claim on top of a two-year deal which was agreed with them in May.

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“As our annual pay negotiations have just begun and discussions are ongoing, any talk of industrial action is premature.

“In addition, we have responded to the driver shortage by offering all of our existing HGV drivers a £1,000 one-off discretionary incentive retention payment.”

The union claimed Asda’s directors had pocketed £12.6m last year in pay and share-based payments and the company generated an operating profit of £486m in the year ending 31 December 2020.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “Asda workers turned up throughout the Covid pandemic, risking their lives to keep the nation fed – as well as helping the company turn a profit of almost £500m.

“Staff who saw colleagues lose their lives to Covid are not having their legitimate demands for a pay rise treated seriously.”