THE RISKS of Tesco’s shoppers facing shortages in the run-up to Christmas have been reduced by an agreement over a pay dispute which put an end to strike action.

Unite, the UK’s leading union, had previously announced that its members employed at Tesco distribution centres in Antrim, Belfast, Didcot, and Doncaster would be staging a series of strikes both before and after Christmas.

Following that announcement, fresh talks with the company were held and an improved offer was made.

The workers have been offered a minimum of a 5.5 per cent increase backdated to July 2021 (the anniversary date for annual pay increases) and an additional 0.5 per cent from February 2022.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tesco’s improved offer shows what can be achieved by our members standing together. Given that the company has forecast profits for 2021 topping £2.5 billion an improved offer is the least Tesco workers could expect.

“Unite is the union which always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first and in doing so it is consistently securing improved pay deals for its members.”

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Right from the beginning of this dispute Unite has been clear that Tesco could afford to make a more generous offer and that has proved to be the case.

“It is now up to Unite’s members to decide if the proposed deal meets their expectations.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) added: “Planned industrial action in the week before Christmas has been suspended pending the ballot result due on Wednesday, December 22.”

The two ballots involved drivers and warehouse workers at nine Tesco distribution centres in Daventry Clothing, Goole, Hinckley, Lichfield, Livingston, Magor (both trunk and main sites), Peterborough, and Southampton.

Usdaw is recommending support for the new deal, which amounts to 6% in total, a significant improvement on the previously rejected 4 per cent offer.

Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw National Officer, said: “The strength and solidarity of our members has secured a much improved pay deal. We have negotiated a 5.5 per cent increase, backdated to July, and a further 0.5 per cent from the end of February next year.

“Having reached this improved offer, we have suspended strike action and are recommending that our members support the new offer. Retail distribution workers are key workers who delivered essential services throughout the pandemic; they deserve this pay rise.”

A Tesco spokesperson added: “We’re pleased to have agreed to a pay deal with Usdaw that it recommends to its members. Colleagues at these centres will no longer be taking industrial action. We look forward to delivering a fantastic Christmas for customers.”