No one at Booker available to meet Unite over HGV drivers’ pay dispute

Top managers at Booker Retail Partners have ‘disappeared’ so talks aimed at averting possible strike action by HGV drivers at the C&C/delivered wholesaler’s Thamesmead depot cannot currently take place, Unite the union said today (Wednesday 18 August).

The crux of the dispute is that Booker Retail Partners put in place a temporary pay rise of £5 an hour for the 40 drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot because of the HGV driver shortage, but then refused to implement a similar uplift for the drivers at the Thamesmead site.

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: “Despite the company indicating that it wanted to get pay talks started early to address the issue, the top managers have gone ‘missing in action’. We understand that the general manager is on holiday and another senior manager has just disappeared from the scene.

“At a time when the country faces the worst HGV driver shortage in modern times, with an estimated 100,000 vacancies in the industry, it is the height of irresponsibility that there is no executive for Unite to negotiate with – it is worthy of a Fawlty Towers episode.

“Our Thamesmead members are outraged at the disrespect the management and the company as a whole have shown them – they are very angry as they ballot for industrial action. We are gaining new members from other employees disgusted at the company’s contemptuous attitude.”

The Thamesmead drivers are now being balloted for strike action and industrial action short of a strike. The ballot closes on Friday 3 September. Unite is seeking a similar uplift to that the Hemel Hempstead drivers are receiving.

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.

“Our members deliver everything from fresh food to ‘dry’ groceries and are the lifeblood of many smaller convenience stores. The impact of any sort of industrial action will have a serious impact on the stores’ ability to satisfy customer demand,” said Travers.

“Despite the management’s lackadaisical attitude to employment relations, we are ready for serious talks with the management to resolve this issue – our door remains open for talks 24/7.”

Tel: Booker (01933) 371000

Published Date: August 18, 2021
Category: Wholesale Industry News