Booker agrees to talks with Unite union over HGV drivers’ pay

Booker has agreed to meet the union Unite early next week for talks. This follows the C&C/delivered wholesaler’s refusal to pay the HGV drivers at its Thamesmead depot the same temporary rise of £5 an hour that it has awarded to drivers at its Hemel Hempstead site.

Unite had planned to ballot the Thamesmead drivers for strike action and industrial action short of a strike.

Cash & Carry Management asked Booker: ‘Why wouldn’t Booker pay the same temporary rise to all its HGV drivers?’ but the C&C/delivered wholesaler declined to answer. All Booker had told Unite (as this article went to press) was that the temporary rise was given to the drivers at its Hemel Hempstead site because of a “unique situation”.

Unite previously accused Booker of burying its head in the sand as the HGV driver shortage across the country escalates due to an ageing workforce who are retiring; the effect of the ‘pingdemic’; the backlog in tests for new entrants due to COVID restrictions; and European Union drivers who returned home during the pandemic, but are now deterred from returning to the UK due to Brexit bureaucracy.

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “We are facing a serious HGV driver shortage across the UK – ‘a perfect storm’ in the worst possible way.

“Due to this well-publicised driver shortage, Booker Retail Partners put in place a temporary uplift in pay of £5 an hour for the drivers at Hemel Hempstead; however, when we approached the company in regards to an uplift for our members at Thamesmead, the bosses refused.

“The drivers are paid a low rate of pay. The company seems to think this is acceptable and has consistently refused to meet our demand for a temporary uplift until pay negotiations start in September. Due to the shortage of HGV drivers, pay rates are increasing rapidly across the industry and the management are burying their heads in the sand over this development.”

The Booker depot at Thamesmead services over 1,500 convenience stores across London, the south and the south east, including Budgens, Londis, Premier, One Stop and many petrol stations.

Tel: Booker (01933) 371000

Published Date: August 5, 2021
Category: Wholesale Industry News