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    1,500 London c-stores to be affected on Christmas Eve as Booker drivers set to strike

    A Booker wholesale depot in south London (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images/File Photo)

    Christmas Eve deliveries to 1,500 convenience stores in London and the south east may face disruptions as the dispute between Booker and its drivers at the Thamesmead depot has flared up again.

    The drivers are now set for a two-day strike, including Christmas Eve, with Unite the union accusing the wholesaler of ‘bad faith’ for reneging on an agreement that the drivers’ pay would be reviewed in February 2022, after they voted to accept a 3.3 per cent pay increase in October (which is now in pay packets).

    An earlier call for strike action in October was averted last minute following negotiations.

    “When we agreed to suspend strike action in October, it was on the understanding that a review of drivers’ pay and employment conditions would take place in February and that Unite would be fully involved. However, the company has now scrapped the review and will uplift the drivers’ money by £2 per hour which is completely unacceptable,” Paul Travers, Unite regional officer, said.

    “This is a unilateral decision and, as a result, our members are angry that the money being proposed falls well short of what they deserve, now that the current RPI rate of inflation rate is six per cent.”

    The 45-strong workforce will strike from 00:01 on Thursday 23 December  until 24.00 on Christmas Eve (24 December) which will hit deliveries to stores including Budgens, Londis, Premier, One Stop and many petrol stations.

    “This is an act of bad faith by the Booker bosses. They promised a further review of pay rates to take place in February. They have now broken that agreement and thus have provoked the Christmas strike action,” Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said.

    “Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of all its HGV driver members across the UK. That now includes holding the Booker bosses in Thamesmead to account for breaking a union agreement on pay.”

    Booker said contingency plans are in place to minimise any disruption to retailers.

    “We continue to engage with Unite in relation to our Thamesmead site and remain happy to meet with them in February. We have contingency plans in place to ensure customers can get the products they need, while minimising any disruption for them,” A Booker spokesperson said.

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