Strike action threat for Asda as union launches ballot

Leeds-headquartered supermarket chain, Asda, has joined its rival Tesco in facing potential strike action.

The GMB union said it was conducting a consultative ballot – scheduled to close on 20 December – over the supermarket chain’s decision not to give distribution staff a “meaningful” pay offer.

The ballot would progress to a full vote with any major indication of support for strikes, meaning there is no likelihood of disruption for Asda until the New Year.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “Asda workers turned up throughout the COVID pandemic risking their lives to keep the nation fed – as well as helping the company turn a profit of almost £500m.

“Staff who saw colleagues lose their lives to COVID are not having their legitimate demands for a pay rise treated seriously.

“Asda now say GMB members’ pay claim is ‘unaffordable’ and yet their hard work and sacrifice helped directors trouser almost £10m between them.”

An Asda spokesman told Sky News: “The GMB has recently made an additional pay claim on top of a two-year deal which was agreed with them in May.

“As our annual pay negotiations have just begun and discussions are ongoing, any talk of industrial action is premature.

“In addition, we have responded to the driver shortage by offering all of our existing HGV drivers a £1000 one-off discretionary incentive retention payment.”

The GMB and Asda are still embroiled in an equal pay claim relating to 40,000 Asda workers.

It concerns whether store staff, who are mostly women, are entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for the purposes of equal pay.