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Union warns that Asda workers are close to striking

Written by: Emma Lunn
GMB Union said that thousands of the supermarket’s workers said they were ready to walk out over the company’s failure to make an acceptable pay offer.

GMB representatives will now meet after the next pay talks to agree the next steps in moving to a formal strike ballot after 94% of Asda warehouse and clerical workers and LGV drivers voted in favour of strike action.

The dispute sparked after the supermarket giant failed to offer distribution staff a ‘meaningful’ pay offer – with inflation running at a 10-year high.

GMB said that in 2020 Asda’s directors trousered £12.6m in pay and share based payments, while the company turned an operating profit of £486m in the year to 31 December 2020.

The union wrote to Asda this week asking if it is holding back distribution workers’ pay because of potential future liabilities in a long-running equal pay claim.

GMB is currently engaged in a long-running battle on the issue of equal pay for 40,000 predominantly women shopfloor workers in Asda, who the union believes do not get the same money for the same value work as people employed in the company’s distribution centres who are mostly men.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “This immense vote in favour of industrial action shows the bubbling anger and resentment among the workers. They know what they are worth and they feel Asda is trying to take them for mugs.

“Asda workers are risking their lives as this pandemic rages on – our members in the depots lost colleagues to this disease. They have kept this nation fed throughout every lockdown, turning up for work day in day out.

“All they are now asking for is a fair slice of the pandemic profit pie which Asda directors have benefited hugely from, money our hardworking members created for the company. It’s repugnant corporate behaviour; and workers are ready to strike.”

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