Menzies Distribution has put “robust” contingencies in place to ensure service continuity, after the Unite union said its members would strike next week over a pay dispute.

Members of Unite will hold two 24-hour strikes on the 23 and 26 September over what the union describes as a “pitiful” pay offer.

According to the union the dispute is about a pay change implemented by the operator in April, which sees workers - pickers, packers and delivery drivers in the main -receiving £7.25 an hour – 5p more than the national living wage.

Ian Tonks, national officer for the graphical, paper and media sector at Unite, said: “For the first time ever our members working for Menzies Distribution are taking strike action – a sign of their strong rejection of the pitiful pay offer.

“The strikes will cause severe disruption to the distribution of newspapers and magazines to newsagents and railway stations, particularly in the South East and Scotland.

“The wiping out of extra pay and time off for a bank holiday has caused particular anger among our members, which has been compounded by the bosses’ obsessive addiction to minimum wage pay levels.”

Unite said there will also be a continuous overtime ban starting at 00:01 on 23 September, which will dovetail with the continuous work to rule that has been in place since 8 August.

A spokesman for Menzies Distribution said management had been engaged in ongoing meetings with Unite regarding the dispute, which involves 300 union members from a workforce of 2,800.

“A revised and final offer, which we believe is a fair one given market conditions, was made to the union with the aim of resolving this dispute.

“The union, having balloted its members on the revised offer, has now advised that they have rejected it and will pursue industrial action.

“Menzies Distribution has robust contingency plans in the event that any industrial action by the union goes ahead over the coming weeks, and we remain confident that no disruption to services will be experienced by retailers or publishers,” he said.