Forty drivers, employed by Booker Retail Partners at its Thamesmead site, have voted unanimously for strike action.
This follows a dispute caused by Booker Retail Partners putting in place a temporary pay rise of £5 an hour for the 40 drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot but then refusing to implement a similar uplift for the drivers at the Thamesmead site.
Unite the union is poised to issue notice to the employer for strike action, but wants to allow time for crunch talks with the bosses on 21-23 September.
Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “This is really ‘smell the coffee’ time for the bosses at Booker Retail Partners. Our members at Thamesmead could not have sent out a clearer message – 100 per cent voting in favour of strike action.
“We are poised to issue notice for strike action very soon which will cause serious disruption to more than 1,500 convenience stores on London and the south east; however we are holding crucial talks on 21- 23 September. If those talks don’t result in a fair settlement, there will be strikes as our members are up for a long, drawn-out fight for pay justice.
“This dispute has been pockmarked by very poor employment relations by the management, with senior executives ‘missing in action’ at critical times and then trying to bypass negotiating procedures by attempting to offer our members a deal that would have ultimately left them worse off.
“Any industrial action will deepen the supply shortages that many parts of the retail sector are currently experiencing due to the wider issue of HGV driver shortages which are estimated at 70,000 to 100,000.
“Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.”