ASDA strike threat as cost of living crisis bites

Distribution staff at supermarket group ASDA have turned down what union leaders have described as a “real terms pay cut”, with a large majority said to be prepared to go on strike.

Almost 70 per cent of the 8,000 GMB members polled turned down the below-inflation pay offer, the union said, while nearly 80% of warehouse, clerical workers and LGV drivers said they were ready to take industrial action over pay. 

GMB will now meet with members to discuss next steps. 

Nadine Houghton, national officer at the GMB, said the union will now meet with members to discuss their next steps.

“The UK is facing the worst cost of living crisis for a generation,” she said. “Inflation is rampant and energy prices are out of control. 

READ MORE: Tesco comes out ahead in battle for festive spending

“Yet Asda workers are being taken for mugs with below inflation pay offer that basically means a real terms pay cut. 

“They’re not going to take it lying down – it’s now up to Asda bosses to come back with a reasonable offer and avert the threat of industrial action.”

The disapute with drivers and warehouse workers kicked off in December, with ASDA accusing the GMB of going far above and beyond a pay deal agreed earlier this year. That two-year agreement, signed in May, included an offer of a £1,000 one-off retention payent to existing HGV drivers. 

The dispute is being watched closely across the industry as unions prepare to enter into negotiations with big food companies in the new year. Many of the bigger companies within the food sector were due to begin negotiations in January.

GMB and Asda are also in a long-running equal pay dispute on behalf of 40,000 Asda shopworkers. It relates to whether the role of store staff, who are predominantly women, can be compared with distribution workers for pay purposes.

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