DHL Supply Chain has urged striking delivery drivers and warehouse staff in Liverpool to observe social distancing measures after it was blamed for calling out the police “at least 10 times”.

The company said its door remained open to the Unite union to resolve a dispute among 120 workers at its Portal Way site, who undertake the Burton Biscuits and AB World Foods delivery contracts.

The union said the issue was over low pay, victimisation of workers and a collapse in industrial relations.

Eight 24-hour strikes have been announced, between 19 December and 5 January.

However, Unite claimed its “peaceful picket line” had been visited by the police on at least 10 occasions after DHL bosses had called them out.

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Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said: “DHL is flagrantly relying on police to try to break a lawful dispute. Of course, feelings are high and nobody wants to be on strike.

“However, I believe DHL has called the police without due cause and have alleged incidents that simply have not occurred in an attempt to discredit a peaceful picket line.”

A DHL Supply Chain spokeswoman said the company recognised the union’s right to protest: “but as our number one priority is the safety of our colleagues and the general public, we ask that this be done safely and peacefully”, she added.

“We would also ask that social distancing measures are observed at all times.

“Our contingency plans are working and our door remains open for further dialogue to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion for all parties as soon as possible.”