Tesco faces 'stock shortage' as fears grow about pre-Christmas workers strike over pay

SHOPPERS could face empty shelves this Christmas as thousands of Tesco workers get set to strike.

There are mounting fears of supermarket stock shortages if industrial action goes ahead.

Tesco has said it is "confident" it can fulfil its Christmas plans but trade union Unite has warned that a walkout could lead to empty shelves in the run-up to Christmas this year.

The warning comes as its members voted to strike unless they were offered a pay deal that keeps pace with inflation.

Its warehouse workers and lorry drivers are set to start a series of rolling strikes from December 16.

It would include staff at depots in Doncaster, Didcot, Belfast and Antrim.

A further nine warehouses could be affected by the outcome of a vote by members of the Usdaw union.

An email from Usdaw seen by The Sun showed that 3,342 staff members had been asked to vote, of whom 2,032 responded.

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Some 1,473 workers voted yes to strikes, and just 559 voted no.

It means around 72 per cent of these respondents are in favour of striking.

If the strike action goes ahead, it is understood it will affect half of Tesco's 22 distribution centres.

What's going on?

Tesco workers are balloting for strike action in a row over pay.

Tesco has offered a wage increase of 4 per cent, which workers say isn't enough.

Unite called the offer "offensive" and was effectively a "real-terms pay cut".

This is because it doesn't beat inflation, which is at a 10-year high of 4.2 per cent, and the retail price index rate of inflation is running at 6 per cent.

But it could cause major disruption to Christmas deliveries and there are fears it could lead to more empty shelves in stores.

Shoppers were faced with shortages in supermarkets back in October, as supply chain issues and a lack of lorry drivers caused widespread issues for retailers.

Some customers resorted to stockpiling goods amid fears the situation would worsen.

Customers were urged not to panic buy, but now there are concerns the situation could rear its head again just before Christmas.

Tesco staff have been asked to vote on strike action, which would begin at 7am on December 16 if it goes ahead.

The initial strike would last for 48-hours, followed by a five-day stoppages starting on December 20.

After this, there would be another 48-hour strike starting on December 30, and a three-day stoppage from January 5.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers.

"The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this, and is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years, building on our highly competitive pay and rewards package. 

"We welcome the decision by our colleagues at the sites who have voted against industrial action.

"We are disappointed that some have voted to proceed, and we have contingency plans in place to help mitigate any impacts.

"We have worked hard to deliver Christmas for our customers and are confident we will be able to fulfil our plans.”

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