Asda is facing serious delays to deliveries after thousands of the supermarket’s lorry drivers joined warehouse staff and clerical workers in voting to reject the retailer’s latest pay offer.
Almost 70% of the 8,000 GMB members polled turned down the below inflation pay offer. In addition, nearly 80% of the HGV drivers, warehouseoperatives and clerical workers balloted said they were ready to take industrial action over pay, raising the spectre of widespread disruption across all of Asda’s 23 distribution centres.
Asda is offering a pay rise of between 5% to 7.5%. According to the retail prices index, inflation is running at 7.8%, whilst the consumer prices index, which the government uses, predicts inflation to rise from 5% in January to 8% in April. The average hourly rate for Asda drivers is currently £15.07 whilst warehouse operatives receive £13.09 an hour on average.
Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: “The UK is facing the worst cost of living crisis for a generation. Inflation is rampant and energy prices are out of control. Yet Asda workers are being taken for mugs with below inflation pay offer that basically means a real terms pay cut. They’re not going to take it lying down – it's now up to Asda bosses to come back with a reasonable offer and avert the threat of industrial action.”
GMB said it will now meet with members to discuss next steps.
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Jon Parry, the vice-president of Asda Logistics Services, said: “We value the key role our colleagues play to keep our stores well stocked, and we have negotiated in good faith with the GMB to make a fair, competitive and sustainable pay offer that recognises rising inflation. We are disappointed this has been rejected.”
If the national recognition agreement between Asda and GMB members is followed the two parties will now call in the services of ACAS.
The dispute began back in December last year when the union slammed Asda’s latest pay deal as a “kick in the teeth” for workers as inflation soared. At the time GMB claimed Asda’s directors had been awarded £12.6m in the year ending 31 December 2020 in pay and share-based payments.
The union also pointed to the company’s operating profit of £486m in the period as ample reason why the retailer, which is the UK’s third largest supermarket chain, should award its workers a pay rise above inflation.