Warehouse workers and drivers at Tesco are to hold a series of strikes over pay which their trade union says could result in shortages in stores, Sky News reports.
Unite said more than 1,000 of its members – based at depots in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot and Doncaster, would take industrial action.
The union said it meant “shoppers in many parts of the UK face empty shelves in the run-up to Christmas”.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Unite is taking strike action as a last resort having exhausted all other options.
“Even at this late stage Tesco could still avoid severe disruption in its stores by returning to the negotiating table and making a greatly improved offer.”
Unite said Tesco had offered a 4% pay rise, describing it as “well below” the current retail price index (RPI) inflation rate of 6% – though the more-commonly used consumer prices index measure of inflation stands at 4.2%.
The company said its offer was one of the highest awards made within its distribution business in the last 25 years and that it had contingency plans to mitigate the impact of strike action.
It comes at a time when supermarkets are already battling with supply chain disruption and the distribution industry has warned of a scaled-back Christmas in UK stores – as retailers curb product choice to focus on being able to have the essentials for the season available.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tesco’s shelves filled throughout the pandemic.
“At the very least the UK’s largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members a decent pay offer.”