As Logistics Manager was going to press, Morrisons said it was in talks with both the TGWU and the GMB over the outcome of their recent ballots, which were “held in pursuit of their desire for joint national bargaining” with the supermarket chain.
In a statement, the company said: “In talking with the two unions we will consider the interests of our entire distribution workforce and, as always, aim to resolve the issues amicably. We will ensure that our stores continue to be well serviced and our customers are able to shop with us normally. This is ultimately in the best interests of all stakeholders.
“The ballot results cover five of our 17 distribution sites. We have 12 sites across the country not involved in this dispute, which gives us a great degree of flexibility in our contingency plan, should the need arise. On the three T&G sites only 27% of our employees voted to support strike action. This would seem to indicate that the majority of people at these sites do not wish to stop work to support these two unions’ desire for joint national bargaining. We will use this to full advantage to maintain continuity of service.”
The GMB had announced earlier that Morrisons staff had voted to strike over the distribution depot closures. More than 60% voted for strike action and 82% voted for action short of a strike. The dispute is over what the GMB claims is a Morrisons internal secret document revealing the supermarket chain’s plans to shut distribution depots at Aylesford in Kent, Bristol and Warrington.
Last month GMB accused Morrisons of working to a secret plan to re-organise its depots. The company denied it had any secret plans, saying insisted that it would consult the unions and the workers when firm plans had been drawn up. The maps attached to the document show that Morrisons is working to a plan which when the new distribution depot opens later this month in Northamptonshire, three will close with the loss of 2,500 jobs.
The Aylesford depot delivers to Morrisons and ex-Safeways stores in the South-east while the Warrington depot distributes to Morrisons stores in the North-west and North Wales.