Yodel said it was surprised that the GMB union was threatening strike action among drivers this Christmas in a row over pay and said it was confident the matter would be settled.

The union said staff were now being balloted for industrial action over a pay offer it described as “insulting”.

The GMB claimed drivers had put themselves at risk by transporting Covid samples, despite being paid just 11p above the minimum wage.

An earlier consultative ballot saw 84% of more than 1,000 members reject a pay offer from Yodel that would increase their pay by 2% from July this year and a further 1.5% next year.

The GMB said the 2% was only worth 1.6% because Yodel was not backdating the pay increase to April.

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Gary Carter, GMB national officer said: “Yodel has been raking it in during the Covid crisis after online sales soared - but they appear committed to hoarding it.

“The company’s workforce has been delivering volumes for household names at a level normally only seen at Christmas throughout the year and in the most trying of circumstances.

“It’s an insult to be presented with such a miserly pay offer.”

But Yodel CEO Mike Hancox said it valued “the hard work and vital role our colleagues play in driving the business forward”.

He said: “We have been in positive discussions with three unions, including the GMB, over the past few weeks and so were surprised to see this latest statement.

“We are confident that ongoing and future negotiations will reach an acceptable outcome for all parties.”