Sainsbury's strike threat as lorry drivers at DHL distribution site in Dartford locked in pay dispute


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A shortage of goods on shop shelves could be exacerbated after lorry drivers at a Dartford distribution centre for one of the biggest supermarkets threatened strike action.

The union Unite says a preliminary ballot of staff at the DHL site in Dartford - which supplies Sainsbury's stores across Kent and London - saw support for action in a dispute over pay.

Sainsbury's supermarkets could be hit by any industrial action
Sainsbury's supermarkets could be hit by any industrial action

The ballot of around 200 HGV drivers resulted in 98% backing industrial action - including walk-outs.

Many stores and businesses are already feeling the strain of a nationwide lack of lorry drivers which has seen many shelves stand empty as supplies struggle to reach their destination.

Pubs have felt the pinch but a feared strike by draymen over pay was called off after Unite negotiated an improved pay offer.

DHL is contracted to run Sainsbury's regional distribution centre in Dartford, which includes driving and warehouse operations.

It is not the first time there has been strike action at the site - a walk-out was threatened at Easter over working conditions.

The Sainsbury's distribution warehouse in Dartford, operated by DHL. Picture: Google
The Sainsbury's distribution warehouse in Dartford, operated by DHL. Picture: Google

Previously, industrial action in 2019 was averted after union chiefs negotiated an improved pay offer.

Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “National HGV driver shortages are all over the news, so how DHL thought it was going to get away with an insulting offer of a 1% pay rise is beyond me.

“Our members have signalled that they are willing to take strike action and we will now be moving to opening a formal industrial action ballot.

“Unless Sainsbury’s and DHL, both of which run extremely healthy profit margins, get their acts together there will be empty shelves in Sainsbury’s stores across London and the South East of England.

“That possibility can be avoided by coming up with an offer that reflects the hard work and dedication shown by these drivers.”

A spokesperson for DHL Supply Chain said: “We are disappointed that Unite is referencing the possibility of future industrial action at our Dartford depot. Further pay talks are scheduled, where we are confident of reaching a satisfactory outcome for both parties.”

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