Asda said it had made an improved offer for staff as part of an ongoing dispute over pay, but that it had been rejected by the union without drivers getting a chance to vote on it.

The supermarket giant responded after the GMB union said a consultative ballot of 8,000 workers showed 95% were in favour of pursuing industrial action over what it claimed was a “real terms pay cut”.

Asda said it had offered to pay transport workers up to £16.25 an hour and warehouse workers up to £13.89 an hour.

The members, some of which include clerical roles, have been in dispute with Asda since last year over what their pay should be.

The GMB claimed the supermarket was attempting to force through a pay deal which would see workers lose sick pay entitlement.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “This ballot result shows how angry Asda workers are.

They’re being asked to swallow a real terms pay cut while Asda’s top brass give themselves a hefty pay rise.

Read more

“There’s no way these key workers should be forced into self-funding their own pay rise via cuts to their sick pay.

“We will now meet with members to discuss next steps.”

However, Asda said its offer was fair, competitive and sustainable: “We have made two improved pay offers which would see warehouse salaries increase to up to £13.89 per hour and transport salaries to up to £16.25 per hour,” said a spokesman.

“We are disappointed it was rejected by the GMB without giving their members the chance to vote on the proposal.

“It is normal during the course of negotiations to seek ways to help fund additional investment in pay and the offer we have made both increases the rate of pay for workers and retains a sickness pay and policy that is in line with the market.”

It also said that in order to fund the increase in hourly rates, Asda had proposed changing its sickness policy to 12 weeks, which brought it into line with industry benchmarks.

The Asda spokesman added: “Any talk of industrial action is premature as there is an agreed framework in place including independent conciliation and arbitration at ACAS if necessary, as part of our longstanding, agreed dispute resolution process.”