More than 6,000 warehouse staff, clerical workers and HGV drivers based at Asda distribution centres have voted that they are ready to take industrial action over pay.
The GMB Union, which balloted 8,000 members at Asda, has claimed that the retailer has offered a below-inflation pay offer which will see workers’ real terms pay slashed because of the rising cost of living.
They have rejected pay rises of between 5% and 7.5%, when the retail prices index measure of inflation in January was 7.8% and the consumer prices index measure was 5.5%. The pay offer varies depending on location and grade.
The union said that almost 70% of the staff polled have turned down the pay offer, and nearly 80% said they were ready to take industrial action, which could involve a strike affecting supermarket deliveries.
Some 12,000 people are employed across Asda’s distribution network.
GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “The UK is facing the worst cost-of-living crisis for a generation. Inflation is rampant and energy prices are out of control.
“Yet Asda workers are being taken for mugs with a below-inflation pay offer that basically means a real-terms pay cut. They’re not going to take it lying down – it’s now up to Asda bosses to come back with a reasonable offer and avert the threat of industrial action.”
Jon Parry, the vice-president of Asda Logistics Services, said: “We value the key role our colleagues play to keep our stores well stocked, and we have negotiated in good faith with the GMB to make a fair, competitive and sustainable pay offer that recognises rising inflation. We are disappointed this has been rejected.”
Asda and GMB have a national recognition agreement which sets out a clear framework for conciliation and arbitration to avoid industrial action. The next steps include further meetings between Asda, the GMB and Acas to try to reach a resolution.
Earlier this month 150,000 Asda retail staff were offered a 3.25% pay increase from April, taking their hourly wage to £9.66 an hour. Most other major supermarkets pay at least £10 an hour, including M&S which last week raised pay for shop floor staff from £9.50 to £10 an hour.