Strikes affecting several Tesco warehouses across England and Northern Ireland have been called off while union members vote on an improved pay offer, but the threat of industrial action still looms over some sites.
Earlier this week Unite said that staff would stage a series of strikes at distribution centres in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster, but the retailer has since offered employees a minimum 5.5% pay increase backdated to July 2021 and an additional 0.5% from February 2022.
The strikes have been put on hold while union members vote on the new offer.
Tesco and the union will also have formal discussions around revising the current system of new and legacy contracts, which could result in the creation of a single pay scale for all warehouse staff.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tesco’s improved offer shows what can be achieved by our members standing together. Given that the company has forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5 billion an improved offer is the least Tesco workers could expect.”
The union claimed it had also secured an increase in overtime at the Doncaster distribution centre and an increase in holiday entitlement for Belfast staff.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We’re pleased to have agreed a pay deal with Unite that it recommends to its members. Colleagues at these centres will no longer be taking industrial action. We look forward to delivering a fantastic Christmas for customers.”
The negotiations did not encompass the Unite members employed at the Livingston distribution centre in Scotland, who have also announced plans for a strike following a ballot on Monday.
Separately, members of the Usdaw union at nine Tesco warehouses in Daventry, Goole, Hinckley, Lichfield, Livingston, Peterborough, Southampton and two sites in Magor have voted to strike over pay. The staff have rejected a 4% pay increase.
Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer, said the union had welcomed Tesco’s offer of further talks.
“Industrial action is always a last resort for our members. We sincerely hope that fresh negotiations can result in an acceptable offer from the business to avoid possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas,” she said.