Unite, the UK’s leading union, has warned that a cynical attempt by Booker Retail Partners to hoodwink its lorry drivers on pay has dramatically increased the likelihood of widespread industrial action at the company.

Tesco empire

The company, which is part of the Tesco empire, has attempted to bypass negotiations with the drivers' union, Unite, by putting a pay proposal directly to staff.

Under the proposals the drivers would receive the following:

  • £70 per week uplift for all HGV drivers
  • £1,000 bonus paid 17 December (numerous factors that can mean the bonus is lost)
  • £1,000 bonus paid 18th March as above
  • £1,500 signing on bonus (paid in two instalments, £750 after 3 months and £750 after 6 months).

Worse offer

The offer, however, is far below the settlement that Unite negotiated for its drivers based at Booker’s depot in Hemel Hempstead in July, who were to receive a £5 an hour increase in pay.

The Hemel Hempstead workforce is furious that their pay is now earmarked to fall dramatically under the company’s proposals.

Workers incensed 

The company’s actions have also incensed over 40 Unite members at the company’s depot in Thamesmead South London, who are currently being balloted for strike action as the result of the failure of the company to grant them an uplift in line with that received by the Hemel Hempstead workforce.

The ballot for strike action for the Thamesmead workforce will close on Friday 3 September and if the drivers vote for strike action, strikes affecting deliveries to 1,500 Budgen and Londis convenience stores could begin later next month.

Ham-fisted decision

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Booker’s ham-fisted decision to attempt to cut Unite out of negotiations has made a bad situation worse.

 “Our drivers are not going to be hoodwinked into accepting a deal which is lower than what they have already been offered.

 “The offer of a bonus in both December and March has more strings than an orchestra and our members already believe that most will never receive this payment.

 “Rather than head off strike action our members at Thamesmead are now more determined than ever to support strike action, while the prospect of industrial action spreading to other depots has increased.

 “If Booker want to stop their entire operation from grinding to a halt, they need to withdraw this misguided offer and get round the table with Unite to agree a deal which meets our members expectations and acknowledges that the lorry driver shortage means that pay must permanently increase.”


Notes to editors:

 Managers missing in action for pay talks over HGV drivers who deliver to 1,500 convenience stores in London and South East, says Unite

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.