The transfer of 6,000 Kuehne + Nagel workers to XPO Logistics came as a surprise to the Unite union, but it said it would work to ensure their pay and conditions remained unaffected.

The sale of K+N’s UK contract logistics portfolio followed a strategic review of its business and is expected to close in the second half of this year.

It includes its drinks, food services, retail and technology operations.

The move is separate from the consultation, already in motion, over the 1,500 workers on the Waitrose contract being transferred to XPO Logistics.

Unite national officer Joe Clarke said it was a worrying and uncertain time for members currently working on the K+N UK contract and their concerns would be the union’s “overriding priority” over the next six months: “This announcement has come as a surprise, but we have been given assurances that all terms and conditions of employment will transfer across to XPO,” Clarke said.

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“We will be entering into talks with the company to ensure that those guarantees are set in stone. We will keep our members fully informed throughout this process.

“Unite won’t countenance any diminution in the pay and employment conditions package that our members enjoy with their current employer Kuehne + Nagel UK.”

XPO said the acquisition would expand its UK contract logistics offering “with complementary expertise, 75 facilities and a blue-chip customer base.

“XPO will integrate the acquired operations on its technology platform to optimize synergies within its pan-European network.”