'Wheels fall off Wagon Wheel talks'

Workers part of DHL Liverpool biscuit delivery contract prepare for fresh strike action

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Hopes that further strike action by workers on the DHL Supply Chain contract in Liverpool could be avoided have been dashed as negotiations have collapsed.

The 120 strong workforce undertake the delivery contract for Burton biscuits, which includes the Wagon Wheel and Jammie Dodger brands, and AB World Foods, including the Patak curry range and the Blue Dragon Chinese food range.

The dispute is a result of low pay, with warehouse operatives being paid just above the minimum wage, as well as the systematic victimisation of workers, which has resulted in the complete breakdown in industrial relations.

Strikes began on December 19 but Unite called off five days of planned strike action after DHL promised to make a ‘significantly improved offer’.

However, when negotiations took place last week, it became apparent that DHL had reneged on its promise, only offering a three year deal rather than two years, with no significant pay increase being offered.

As a result, the workforce will be undertaking strike action this week on Wednesday and Thursday, January 20 and 21. Further strike dates have been announced for next month (February 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9) with additional dates being considered.

Tensions have been inflamed during the dispute, as during the initial strikes local management repeatedly called the police to attend a legal picket line. DHL is also using workers in other parts of the organisation to undermine the dispute.

Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe said, “The wheels have fallen off the Wagon Wheel negotiations and fresh strikes at DHL will occur this week.

“The strikes will inevitably result in disruption to Burton Biscuits and AB World Food brands across the UK,” he added.

“While customers will be disappointed by these shortages they need to understand this is directly due to the greed of DHL.

“This is an extremely lucrative contract yet our members are being asked to survive on poverty rates of pay.

“Unite suspended strike action in good faith and DHL responded to that initiative with an entirely unacceptable offer that in no way meets workers’ needs,” Rowe continued.

“Throughout the dispute, the way that DHL management has sought to demonise workers taking legal strike action has been deplorable and has dramatically increased industrial tensions.

“Strikes will continue unless DHL makes a significantly improved pay offer.”

Unite national officer Matt Draper added, “DHL’s insulting offer of less than the equivalent cost of half a packet of Jammie Dodgers per hour is offensive to its loyal key workers, who have continued to work throughout the coronavirus crisis, whilst DHL bosses continue to rack up the profits earned during the pandemic.”

By Barckley Sumner

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