Workers at Asda could go out on strike, joining their colleagues at Tesco as the retailers gear up for the Christmas period.
Union GMB said that it would call a strike ballot which closes on December 20 over what it said is the supermarket’s refusal to give distribution workers a “meaningful pay offer”.
“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,” said GMB national officer Nadine Houghton.
“Staff who saw colleagues lose their lives to Covid 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 £1,000 one-off discretionary incentive retention payment.”
The prospect of a strike at Asda comes a day after unions warned that they could walk out of Tesco’s distribution centres just before Christmas.
Udsaw said that 5,000 of its member might take action after rejecting a 4% annual pay rise.
Inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, rose by 4.2% in the year to October, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.
The Udsaw strike will start on December 20 and end on Christmas Eve.
Tesco is also facing a walkout from around 1,000 members of union Unite.
On Monday, Tesco said: “The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this, and is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years, building on our highly competitive pay and rewards package.
It added: “We have worked hard to deliver Christmas for our customers and are confident we will be able to fulfil our plans.”