South London Booker’s drivers may go on strike later next month, warns trade union

(Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Supplies to thousands of convenience stores are feared to get affected later next month as a workers’ trade union on Thursday (26) warned Booker of “widespread industrial action”, such as strike, over its attempt to “hoodwink its lorry drivers”. 

Unite, the workers’ trade union, has accused the Tesco-owned wholesaler of not giving £5-per hour pay rise to its drivers at Thamesmead South London depot in line with what it has been giving to drivers at Hemel Hempstead.

“The ballot for strike action for the Thamesmead workforce will close on Friday 3 September and if the drivers vote for strike action, strikes affecting deliveries to 1,500 Budgen and Londis convenience stores could begin later next month,” Unite said in a press statement.

The site is said to serve more than 1,500 petrol stations and convenience stores across London and the south of England including Premier and One Stop.  

The trade union has also accused Booker of attempting to bypass negotiations and putting a pay proposal directly to staff which is far below the settlement that Unite negotiated for its drivers based at Booker’s depot in Hemel Hempstead in July, who was to receive a £5 an hour increase in pay.

Regional officer of Unite, Paul Travers, said: “Our drivers are not going to be hoodwinked into accepting a deal which is lower than what they have already been offered.”

After the recently-released Booker’s proposal emerged, Hemel Hempstead workforce is “furious that their pay is now earmarked to fall dramatically”, Unite said.

“Rather than head off strike action our members at Thamesmead are now more determined than ever to support strike action, while the prospect of industrial action spreading to other depots has increased,” Travers said.