Distribution workers at Morrisons depots were set to strike this week, sending shivers down the spines of bosses at the supermarket chain.
The strike, involving 4,000 members of the GMB and T&G unions, was set to take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. The action will be the first ever national strike in supermarket distribution.
Talks were scheduled for just before the strike. Unions also plan a six-day strike starting on Thursday of next week, 29 September, and an overtime ban. Workers were balloted for action in the wake of the takeover of Safeway by Morrisons.
But the company has failed to agree talks with the unions over job security and wages.
T&G national organiser Brian Revell said that another issue was the company’s refusal of paid release to allow recognised shop stewards to meet.
Documents obtained by the GMB union revealed that 2,000 jobs could go at the Warrington and Aylesford depots.
Bosses at Morrisons, Britain’s fourth largest supermarket chain, have been thrown into panic. Depot workers are enormously powerful. The five depots affected — Alyesford in Kent, Warrington, Bristol, Gadbrook Park in Cheshire and Wakefield — supply 60 percent of Morrisons’ 350 stores.
Last Sunday’s Observer quoted a shareholder saying that “if the company’s image is dented, chief executive Bob Stott would have to be removed at the earliest opportunity”.