Car drivers, who use Morrisons’ supermarket petrol stations in London, the South East and East Anglia, face the possibility of shortages, if a dispute over a driver’s ‘docked’ £5,200 pay leads to industrial action next month.
A total of 19 drivers, employed by DHL Supply Chain and based in West Thurrock, who deliver petrol and diesel to 55 petrol stations at Morrisons supermarkets across the region, are currently being balloted for strike action and industrial action short of a strike.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents the drivers, estimates that stores will only have one day’s stock, so will run ‘dry’ very quickly, if the dispute last more than a few days.
The dispute centres on a driver who had his wages ‘docked’ over seven months to the tune of £5,200, after he was involved in an accident, which the union, says was not his fault and that the bosses’ reaction was ‘grossly unfair’.
Unite is due to hold ‘make-or-break’ talks with the management tomorrow (Friday 20 January). The ballot closes on Friday 27 January and industrial action, threatening petrol deliveries could start from Saturday 4 February.
Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Our members have shown patience and common sense, yet DHL management consistently refuses to do the same and recognise the grossly unfair treatment that it has meted out to our member, which has resulted in him suffering loss of earnings of about £5,200.
“The failure of management to follow agreed procedures is also of concern to the union and its members on health & safety grounds.
“The ballot for industrial action closes on the 27 January which means that Morrisons’ petrol stations could be running low on fuel from 4 February onwards. We estimate that stores will only have one day’s stock so will run ‘dry’ very quickly, if the dispute runs over a few days.
“Motorists, customers of Morrisons, seeking fuel could be seriously affected.
“Our member was involved in an incident when a driver cut in front of him as he was travelling along a major road and he was forced to break extremely sharply, in doing so he seriously injured his back.
“His forward facing camera activated and should have recorded the incident. The management was made aware, but failed to download the recording which is the agreed procedure. Yet DHL continues to act as if there has been no wrong doing by them.
“Unite has supported our member through the grievance procedure, despite DHL admitting it failed to follow procedure and download the footage.
“It has refused to pay our member’s loss of earnings which is the agreed procedure when involved in non-blameworthy accidents. Unless the company offers restitution, it looks very likely there will be a strong vote in favour of industrial action.
“The loss of earnings was due to the driver only being paid 80 per cent of wages for five months, then two-and-a half months on 40 per cent pay. This equates to about £5,200.”
The list of the Morrison petrol stations that could be affected is below:
Aldershot, Basingstoke, Beccles, Bedford, Borehamwood, Camborne, Camden, Canterbury, Canvey, Chingford, Clacton, Cromer, Crowborough, Diss, East Dereham, Eastbourne, Enfield, Erith, Fakenham, Farnborough, Felixstowe, Fleet, Gravesend, Grays, Harwich, Hastings, High Wycombe, Horndean, Ipswich, Kings Lynn, L Buzzard, Littlehampton, Lowestoft, Maldon, Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Northampton 1, Northampton 2, Norwich, Peckham, Peterborough, Queensbury, Reading, Seaford, Sheppey, Sittingbourne, Sittingbourne RDC, St Albans, Stanground, Strood, Thamesmead, Walderslade, Welwyn, Witham, and oking.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.