Workers employed by DHL Supply Chain in Liverpool, who undertake the Burton Biscuits and AB World Foods delivery contract, have voted for industrial action in a dispute over low pay, victimisation of workers and the complete collapse of industrial relations.
The dispute will result in supplies of Burton Biscuits’ brands Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers, as well as AB World Foods’ brands including Patak and Blue Dragon, vanishing from supermarket shelves across much of the UK.
The 120 members of Unite are employed as warehouse operators and delivery drivers by DHL, at its delivery centre in Portal Way, Liverpool. As a result of the yes vote in favour of strike action, Unite has announced eight days of strike action between December 19 to January 5.
The strike is a result of a number of Unite members being dismissed on ‘spurious grounds’. Also, there has been a complete collapse of industrial relations due to the constant victimisation of workers by management.
Members are also taking industrial action against the poverty pay rates being offered by DHL. Despite the company being extremely profitable and this contract being especially lucrative, the pay offer currently on the table will result in warehouse operatives being paid just two and half pence above the national minimum wage when the rate is increased to £8.91 in April 2021.
Unite is seeking agreement that all workers will be paid at least 50 pence above the minimum wage.
Talks about the dispute at the conciliation service Acas collapsed recently without agreement.
Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said, “The wheels are falling off DHL’s operation in Liverpool.
“Members are simply not prepared to accept poverty pay rates and workers being suspended or sacked on spurious charges, due to management victimisation, any longer,” he added.
“This is an incredibly profitable contract and the workers have kept it rolling along continuously through two lockdowns and they have now said enough is enough. DHL have got to stop dodging its responsibility to pay a decent rate.
“Given the just in time nature of supermarket operations, this strike action will quickly result in Wagon Wheels, Jammie Dodgers, Patak sauces and Blue Dragon products disappearing from shelves,” Rowe continued.
“While customers will be disappointed that they will be unable to buy their normal products it is hoped that they understand that workers must be treated decently at work and receive a fair rate of pay.
“Even at this late stage DHL can avoid this widespread disruption by making a decent pay offer and reverse the dismissal of workers, while ending the victimisation and ill-treatment of the workforce.”
By Barckley Sumner