The dispute was sparked after Big 4 grocer failed to “come clean” and “disclose” if it is holding back pay rises for its staff members – with inflation running at a ten-year high
Asda is facing possible strike action in the New Year, after thousands of workers voted in favour of a walk out over the company’s failure to make an acceptable pay offer.
The GMB union, which represents workers, is expected to meet after the next pay talks to agree on the next steps in moving to a formal strike ballot after 94% of warehouse and LGV drivers voted in favour of strike action.
The dispute was sparked after Big 4 grocer failed to “come clean” and “disclose” if it is holding back pay rises for its staff members – with inflation running at a ten-year high.
Last week, GMB wrote to Asda asking if it is holding back distribution workers’ due to potential liabilities in a long-running equal pay claim.
The grocer is facing a multi-million compensation bill after the Supreme Court ruled shop floor workers should be considered equal to distribution centre employees who are paid a higher rate. It affects 40,000 employees.
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“This immense vote in favour of industrial action shows the bubbling anger and resentment among the workers,” GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said.
“They know what they are worth and they feel Asda is trying to take them for mugs.
“Asda workers are risking their lives as this pandemic rages on – our members in the depots lost colleagues to this disease.
Houghton added: “They have kept this nation fed throughout every lockdown, turning up for work day in day out.
“All they are now asking for is a fair slice of the pandemic profit pie which Asda directors have benefited hugely from, money our hard-working members created for the company.
“It’s repugnant corporate behaviour, and workers are ready to strike.”
The GMB’s consultative ballot closed on December 20 with staff voting to press ahead with strikes.
The union said that with inflation rising, the situation was a “kick in the teeth” for its key workers.
An Asda spokesperson said: “The GMB has recently made an additional pay claim on top of a two-year deal which was agreed with them in May.
“As our annual pay negotiations have just begun and discussions are ongoing, any talk of industrial action is premature.
“In addition, we have responded to the driver shortage by offering all of our existing HGV drivers a £1000 one-off discretionary incentive retention payment.”
The news comes after the supermarket’s directors pocketed £12.6million in pay and share-based payments, while the company turned an operating profit of £486million in the year 2020.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.