Booker drivers at its Thamesmead site have unanimously voted for strike action over a pay dispute, affecting over 1500 convenience stores in London and the southeast.
The strike action comes from the introduction of a temporary £5 an hour raise for about 40 drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot due to the HGV driver shortages but did not do the same for the 40 drivers at its Thamstead site.
Unite the Union said it is poised to issue notice to the employer for strike action, but wants to allow time for crunch talks with the bosses on September 21-23 September.
The union also warned that any industrial action will deepen the supply shortage crisis hitting many parts of the UK economy because of the lack of HGV drivers.
The Thamesmead drivers deliver to independent retailers under the Budgens and Londis brands in London and the southeast.
“ 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,” Unite regional officer Paul Travers said.
“We are poised to issue notice for strike action very soon which will cause serious disruption to more than 1500 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.”
He added: “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 – 100,000.”