A union has claimed that Tesco stores in Northern Ireland face empty shelves ahead of Christmas, as workers prepare to strike.
Warehouse workers and drivers employed by the supermarket giant are to stage a series of strikes in the coming weeks in a dispute over pay.
Unite said more than 1,000 of its members at depots in Antrim and Belfast, as well as Didcot and Doncaster in England, will take industrial action.
The union said the company had offered a 4% pay rise, describing it as “well below” the current retail price index inflation rate of 6%. The current consumer prices index is 4.2%.
Tesco said its offer was one of the highest awards made within its distribution business in the last 25 years.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tesco’s shelves filled throughout the pandemic.
“At the very least the UK’s largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members a decent pay offer.
“Unite always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be giving its full and total support to our members at Tesco until this dispute is resolved.”
Unite members at the Antrim and Belfast Tesco distribution centres will launch an all-out, continuous strike from 7am on December 16.
The union claimed the proposed strike action will leave shelves in Tesco stores across Northern Ireland empty ahead of Christmas.
Another strike ballot result of its members at Tesco’s distribution centre in Livingston, Scotland, will be known today.
If workers vote for industrial action they will be likely to join the strike action before Christmas, said the union.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Unite is taking strike action as a last resort having exhausted all other options.
“Even at this late stage Tesco could still avoid severe disruption in its stores by returning to the negotiating table and making a greatly improved offer.”
A Tesco spokesperson said the company had “contingency plans in place to help mitigate any impacts”
They added: “Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers.
“The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this, and is one of the highest awards made within our distribution business in the last 25 years, building on our highly competitive pay and rewards package.”