Strikes by a fleet of DS Smith LGV drivers delivering packaging cardboard and paper to major retailers across the country, including Amazon, have escalated to cover the entire Christmas period, union Unite announced today.
The union is warning that strikes will compromise the ability of DS Smith clients, which include Direct Wines, Cadbury, Amazon and Haribo, to package items for mail order delivery to customers during the festive season.
The drivers also provide delivery services for British Gypsum, VPK Packaging, Cepac, Board 24 and Sinat Portbury. In addition, they pick up recycling at distribution centres for Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Coop, ASOS, Biffa and Veolia. Unite warned this week that a large pileup of uncollected cardboard will cause significant disruption to the Christmas operations of these companies.
DS Smith Logistics drivers, who are based in Launceston in Cornwall, Sittingbourne in Kent, Avonmouth in Bristol and Tuxford in Nottinghamshire, have rejected a 5% pay offer which the union said represents a significant real terms pay cut when the real rate of inflation, RPI, stood at 11.3% when the pay rise should have been implemented in May.
An initial seven days of strikes has already taken place between 20 and 27 November. Unite said that the next round of strike action will begin on 11 December and lasts until 23 December.
DS Smith Logistics is a wholly owned subsidiary of DS Smith PLC. According to its latest financial report DS Smith PLC brought in a pretax profit of £661m during 2022/23 – a 71% increase on the year before.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “DS Smith has huge profits and can well afford to give these drivers a fair pay rise. The company’s refusal to do so is just sheer corporate greed. Unite’s top priority is our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the workforce at DS Smith have their union’s complete support.”
Unite national officer Adrian Jones added: “The blame for the significant disruption caused to DS Smith’s clients lies squarely at the company’s own door. Unite has made it clear that we are prepared to enter talks at any time. But instead of finding a way forward DS Smith has continually time wasted, including trying to find spurious legal reasons as to why the industrial action cannot go ahead. The only way to resolve this dispute is for DS Smith to stop being greedy and make a reasonable offer.”