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    Supplies to more than 1,500 London stores may hit as Booker’s drivers threaten strike

    Representative image of Booker by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

    Supplies to more than 1,500 convenience stores in London and the south east may be disrupted in the coming weeks as drivers, employed by Booker Retail Partners at its Thamesmead site, have voted unanimously for strike, leading workers’ union Unite said today (6).

    As per Unite, the union is poised to issue a notice, on behalf of the site’s 40 drivers, to Thamesmead Booker for strike action, but wants to allow time for talks with the bosses on 21 to 23 September.

    The Thamesmead drivers cater to independent retailers under the Budgens and Londis brands. Unite has warned such an industrial action will further deepen the current supply  crisis hitting many parts of the UK economy due to reported lack of high good vehicle (HGV) drivers.

    The root cause of the dispute, as per Unite, is that Booker has put in place a temporary £5-an-hour pay uplift for about 40 drivers at its Hemel Hempstead depot because of the HGV driver shortage, but did not implement a similar uplift for the 40 drivers at the Thamesmead site.

    Unite regional officer Paul Travers said that if talks on Sept 21-23 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”.

    “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,” Travers said, adding that Unite is dedicated in advancing the pay and conditions of its members and will “fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards”.

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