Arla Foods milk supplies to supermarkets in northern England could be disrupted over Easter after lorry drivers voted to strike in a row over pensions and holiday pay.
Workers’ unions GMB and Unite said 100 lorry drivers would stage a 72-hour strike from Wednesday 1 April, unless the dispute can be resolved.
Deliveries to Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Asda across northern England could be hit.
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The row centres around Arla’s decision to outsource transport to third-party company Moran Logistics, based in Leeds.
Unite argues that Arla Foods is “shortchanging and not honouring agreements” with the drivers over outstanding holiday pay and pension benefits which, depending on the individual, could amount to several thousands of pounds.
Unite has already criticised Arla Foods for “dumping” the drivers, with over 1,000 years of loyal service, and refusing to share with the two unions the financial information to support its decision to transfer the drivers.
Unite national officer for road transport Matt Draper said: “The ball is very much in Arla’s court, and Unite and the GMB are ready for constructive talks at any time.”
Arla Foods stressed that any strike action would not affect the collection of raw milk from farms.
Dan Kolding, Arla Foods’ senior vice president, food supply, said: “Arla has worked with Moran Logisitics to ensure that all affected colleagues have been treated in a fair and consistent way in line with, and in some cases, exceeding all Tupe [transfer of undertakings] requirements, to make certain that all of their terms and conditions have been transferred.
“We continue to be fully committed to supporting affected colleagues as they go through these changes. We have consistently sought, and have now secured, a meeting with both Unite and GMB unions in order to clarify their position.
“Arla remains committed to reaching a mutually acceptable resolution in order to avoid the proposed industrial action, which we believe is unnecessary.
“We have full contingency plans in place to ensure that deliveries to our customers are not impacted.”