Unite is urging logistics firm DHL to accept ‘reasonable’ improvements to pay and redundancy packages for HGV drivers, who deliver to Sainsbury’s stores across parts of London and the South East, in order to avoid Christmas strikes.
DHL drivers at Sainsbury’s Dartford regional distribution centre voted overwhelmingly for strike action, after negotiations over pay and ending a two-tier system for redundancy packages broke down.
Unite members overwhelmingly (97.4 per cent) voted in favour of strike action that is scheduled to take place on a number of dates over a three month period beginning with a 24 hour strike on December 6.
The drivers are asking for a 3.5 per cent pay rise and for their redundancy packages to be put on a par with Sainsbury’s drivers at other locations who carry out the exact same role.
Unite representatives are due to sit down with DHL’s management at a meeting with the conciliation service Acas this week to try and resolve the dispute before strike action is taken.
“The last thing Unite wants to do is cause disruption to Sainsbury’s customers at the busiest time of the year,” said Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone.
“The strike has been called as an option of last resort and Unite still hopes that it can sit down with DHL and resolve this dispute before action is taken,” he added.
“The drivers’ demands are reasonable and can easily be met by DHL, which is a multinational company. Our members work hard in a stressful role and a 3.5 per cent rise is not an unreasonable ask.
“The drivers also have a right to be treated the same as their Sainsbury’s colleagues performing an identical role, which includes having equal redundancy packages,” Phil went on to say.
“Our members do not want to go on strike, but they will be left with no choice if DHL refuse to make these contract improvements when we meet with Acas.
“The ball is now in the court of DHL’s management and it is they who will be responsible if Christmas strike action goes ahead.”
The strike dates that Unite has announced are: December 6, 13,19, 20, 21, 22, 23 2019, January 3,10,17, 24, 31 2020 and February 13,14,15 2020.