Wincanton has maintained its pay offer put to drivers on the Morrisons contract was fair and competitive, after it was accused of profiteering by a trade union.

Unite said hundreds of HGV drivers in the north of England have now begun voting on strike action, which could result in empty supermarket shelves after it claimed drivers had been offered a 6.5% pay rise.

It said Wincanton’s profits had risen by 17% and that it should put forward “a realistic pay deal.”

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Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: "Wincanton’s profiteering is threatening Morrisons with empty shelves across the north this Christmas.

“The company made £55 million of profit.

“A pay offer almost half the rate of inflation just doesn’t cut it.”

However, a Wincanton spokesman said: “We value the vital work our colleagues carry out every day and the offer we have put forward is fair and competitive.

“We remain committed to finding a resolution that satisfies all parties.”