Socialist Worker

Supermarket workers pay disputes are stacking up

Issue No. 1958

Members of the GMB union at Asda’s Washington depot in the north east of England have rejected an improved pay offer from management.

GMB regional organiser Michael Hopper told Socialist Worker that a workplace ballot had returned a vote of “about 80 percent to reject the deal”.

The union had suspended a strike, planned for Thursday of last week, to consider the latest pay offer of three small increments over the next year.

The workers have asked for a 10 percent pay increase. “They’ve said we shouldn’t talk to the company unless they come back with two 5 percent pay increases,” said Hopper.

The GMB is now investigating the legal situation to see whether it has to ballot again before it can take strike action. Hopper said that 150 workers had joined the union since the start of the dispute. He said, “We’ve also been offered support by the Teamsters union in the US.”

The supermarket giant Wal-Mart, which recently took over Asda, has strongly resisted attempts to unionise depots in the US. When workers initially began balloting in early June in Britain, Asda announced it would slash 315 jobs at the Washington depot.

The GMB is also taking Asda to an industrial tribunal because a pay offer made last year contained inducements for workers to give up their collective bargaining rights.


Workers at the Asda depot in Wigan, Lancashire, protested on Tuesday of this week over the suspension of GMB union rep Gary Belshaw. He has been accused of leading a walkout over increased work rates.

There is a talk of national action against Morrisons by the GMB and T&G unions. After a meeting of reps from around the country last week the unions wrote to management. A strike ballot is possible if management does not respond by 8 July.

In a separate dispute, drivers and depot workers in the Wakefield and Nantwich Morrisons depots have voted to reject a 3.2 percent pay offer.

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Sat 2 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1958
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