// Asda faces strike action threat from distribution workers ahead of festive period
// The GMB union said it was launching a consultative ballot
// Usdaw members will strike from December 20 to Christmas Eve
Asda has joined Big 4 leader Tesco in facing the risk of strike action ahead of the Christmas shopping period.
The GMB union said it was launching a consultative ballot – due to close on December 20 – over the grocer’s choice not to give distribution staff a “meaningful” pay offer.
The union also said that while inflation was “rampant”, the situation was a “kick in the teeth” for its key workers.
The ballot would go to a full vote with any resounding indication of support for strikes.
This could mean there is no prospect of disruption at Asda until the New Year.
Trade unions Usdaw and Unite members at 13 distribution centres have already shown support for strikes in protest at the company’s offer of a four per cent annual pay rise.
The Usdaw members will strike from December 20 to Christmas Eve.
“Asda workers turned up throughout the Covid pandemic risking their lives to keep the nation fed – as well as helping the company turn a profit of almost £500 million,” GMB national officer, Nadine Houghton said.
“Staff who saw colleagues lose their lives to Covid-19 are not having their legitimate demands for a pay rise treated seriously.
“Asda now say GMB members’ pay claim is ‘unaffordable’ and yet their hard work and sacrifice helped directors trouser almost £10 million between them.
“It’s a disgrace – we urge Asda workers to fight for what they deserve and vote yes for a ballot for industrial action.”
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.”