Over a 1,100 workers employed at two Morrisons supermarket distribution centres have begun balloting for strike action in a dispute over pay.
The affected distribution centres are Northwich, in Cheshire, and Wakefield. The centres are responsible for distributing food and goods to Morrisons supermarkets throughout the North West, Yorkshire and beyond.
The dispute is a result of the workers, who are members of Unite, receiving an entirely unacceptable pay offer. Most workers have been offered a three per cent pay increase, although the lowest paid have been offered just two per cent. Both offers are far below the current rate of inflation, with the Retail Price Index standing at 4.9 per cent.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Morrisons is a multi-million pound operation which has financially benefitted from our members working throughout the pandemic. Workers will simply not accept a pay offer which is a real terms pay cut.
“Unite prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of all its members and our members at Morrisons will receive the union’s full support in their campaign for a fair pay rise,” she added.
The inferior offer to the lowest paid is a result of a botched job evaluation process undertaken by Californian company Korn Ferry. The job evaluation process excluded Unite from its deliberations and wrongly decided that the affected workers were being overpaid.
The industrial action ballot opened today (November 16) and closes on Tuesday, November 30. If members vote for industrial action then strikes could begin by mid-December.
Morrisons pleas of poverty and not being able to afford a higher pay increase have been rejected by the workforce. The company, which is extremely profitable, is in the final stages of a £7 billion takeover by United States based private equity group Clayton, Dubiler and Rice (CR&R).
Unite regional officer Ian McCluskey said, “The workers at both distribution centres have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the past 18 months to ensure an unbroken supply of food and goods reaching supermarkets. Unite will not accept the divide and rule tactics that Morrisons want to introduce over pay.
“If Morrisons want to avoid huge disruption to it stores shortly before Christmas, then they need to return to the negotiating table and make a pay offer acceptable to our members.”
By Barckley Sumner