Drivers in strike ballot

TRANSPORT workers at a food firm are to be balloted after growing frustrated with bosses over pay discussions.

The GMB, the recognised union at Walkers Snack Distribution in Peterlee, has been involved with talks with the firm over wages, but say members have become annoyed at the protracted process during the last six months.

Stephen Thompkins, the GMB’s full-time organiser at the plant, said: “The reason the pay talks went on so long is that the company wanted to listen to the workforce, but in reality they did not and they have stuck to their original proposal, which was only to offer what they think other companies are offering, rather than focus on Walkers Distribution.

“The main dispute is Walkers operate a pay principle which means they take information from other employers and if there is a pay differential our members will get a rise, if there is not then they will not.

“There is a feeling that Walkers are paying at best lip service to recognition and at worst showing utter contempt for the workforce.”

Mr Thompkins said the firm told the union it was offering a two per cent increase for days and 1.5 per cent for nights.

In a member ballot, 92 per cent said they rejected the proposal, with an overwhelming response in favour of going to a formal industrial action ballot.

A spokesman for Walkers said: “Drivers, represented by the GMB, have chosen to ballot for industrial action over the terms of a planned pay increase. We are disappointed by this development as we feel the salary increase represents a fair and competitive pay package for our drivers at Peterlee.”