Strike threat could see petrol run out at King’s Lynn and Fakenham supermarkets, union warns

Supermarket petrol station price boards around King's Lynn. Morrison's
Supermarket petrol station price boards around King's Lynn. Morrison's
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A union has warned petrol supplies at supermarket pumps in Lynn and Fakenham “could run dry” should strike action take place over a dispute of a driver’s docked pay.

A total of 19 drivers, employed by DHL Supply Chain and based in West Thurrock and who deliver petrol and diesel to 55 petrol stations at Morrisons supermarkets across the region, are currently being balloted for strike action, and industrial action short of a strike.

Unite, the union who represents the drivers, said the dispute centres on an employee who had his wages docked by £5,200 over a seven-month period after he was involved in an accident.

The union said the incident was not the driver’s fault and described their bosses’ reaction as “grossly unfair.”

And Unite claim petrol could run out at the stores should industrial action last more than a few days.

Make-or-break talks are being held with management today, with the ballot closing next Friday, January 27.

If a solution is not found, industrial action could start on Saturday, February 4.

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 and safety grounds.

“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.”

A DHL spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Unite is balloting its members on industrial action. On January 12, both DHL and Unite agreed to enlist the support of ACAS to help resolve this matter and a meeting was arranged at that time to take place in advance of the closure of the ballot.

“We look forward to what we hope will be positive and constructive dialogue.”

Morrison’s have declined to comment until the result of the ballot is known.