Emergency talks are taking place today (20 January) to try and stop strike action, which could see an Eastbourne petrol station go without deliveries.
Lorry drivers who supply Morrisons’ filling stations with the Unite union are threatening to walk out in a dispute over ‘docked’ pay of £5,200. A total of 19 drivers, employed by DHL Supply Chain, are currently being balloted for strike action and industrial action short of a strike, with the ballot due to close next week.
The dispute centres on a driver who had his wages ‘docked’ over seven months to the tune of £5,200, after he was involved in an accident, which the union, says was not his fault and that the bosses’ reaction was ‘grossly unfair’.
Unite is due to hold ‘make-or-break’ talks with the management today and if an agreement can’t be reached petrol deliveries could start being affected from Saturday 4 February.
Unite regional officer Paul Travers said, “Our members have shown patience and common sense, yet DHL management consistently refuses to do the same and recognise the grossly unfair treatment that it has meted out to our member, which has resulted in him suffering loss of earnings of about £5,200.
“The failure of management to follow agreed procedures is also of concern to the union and its members on health & safety grounds.
“The ballot for industrial action closes on the 27 January which means that Morrisons’ petrol stations could be running low on fuel from 4 February onwards. We estimate that stores will only have one day’s stock so will run ‘dry’ very quickly, if the dispute runs over a few days.
“Motorists, customers of Morrisons, seeking fuel could be seriously affected.
“Our member was involved in an incident when a driver cut in front of him as he was travelling along a major road and he was forced to break extremely sharply, in doing so he seriously injured his back.
“His forward-facing camera activated and should have recorded the incident. The management was made aware, but failed to download the recording which is the agreed procedure. Yet DHL continues to act as if there has been no wrong doing by them.
“Unite has supported our member through the grievance procedure, despite DHL admitting it failed to follow procedure and download the footage.
“It has refused to pay our member’s loss of earnings which is the agreed procedure when involved in non-blameworthy accidents. Unless the company offers restitution, it looks very likely there will be a strong vote in favour of industrial action.
“The loss of earnings was due to the driver only being paid 80 per cent of wages for five months, then two-and-a half months on 40 per cent pay. This equates to about £5,200.”