More than 80 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers employed by Wincanton on an outsourced contract, delivering food to Asda’s regional distribution centres, have accepted a 9.5% pay increase.
The drivers, who are members of the trade union Unite, are based at Wincanton’s depot in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. They were previously paid £13.50 an hour, and according to the union often required to work up to 15 hours a day, transporting goods from Scotland to Bedford and Bristol in the South East and West.
Having previously been offered a 7.4% increase on basic pay rates, which the union stated was a real-terms pay cut as the inflation rate currently stands at 12.3%, the drivers began to ballot for industrial action, with the ballot due to close on 21 November. If agreed, strike action would have seen stoppages begin in the first week in December, and resulted in Asda supermarkets experiencing supply problems in the run up to Christmas.
However, following the announcement of the ballot, fresh negotiations were held and a 9.5% increase, with a basic pay rate of £14.97, was accepted by the drivers.
The union reported that Wincanton made a pre-tax profit of £54.8 million in 2021/22, a 19% increase on the previous year, while Asda’s latest profits exceeded £1 billion for the first time.
A Wincanton spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached a resolution that satisfies all parties.”
Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, said: “This was an important win for our members at Wincanton, who were not prepared to endure low pay rates any longer. Unite’s commitment to always focus on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members is paying off.”
Kenny Rowe, regional officer at Unite, added: “The pay deal was a significant victory for our members on the Wincanton Asda contract, Unite will be looking to build on this pay deal in future negotiations.”