Morrisons workers on strike in Yorkshire: ‘We supply food, now we won’t have enough on to survive’

Around a thousand workers from Morrisons are on strike today after the supermarket chain forced changes to pension contributions which could leave employees up to £500 worse off per year.

The initial six-day industrial action will likely see empty shelves and a lack of products available in stores nationwide.

Unite members working as warehouse stock controllers, cooks, canteen staff, and administrators were balloted for strike action to protect their pensions and take-home pay and voted overwhelmingly to take strike action.

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Staff are based in warehouses in Cheshire and Wakefield and perform essential roles.

Joanna Pegg is one of the workers impactedJoanna Pegg is one of the workers impacted
Joanna Pegg is one of the workers impacted

Another change is set to introduce a “pick rate,” which monitors staff members’ speed.

One Warehouse operator, who is a Unite Representative in Wakefield, Joanna Pegg, 41, said: “Some workers have been working for Morrisons for most of their lives and now we get this, a change in our terms and conditions.

“We are not just fighting for this year but for our pensions too.”

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She added that in a cruel ironic twist, many people who supply the supermarket shelves with essentials in the chain's 500 stores will no longer have enough to “survive.”

Factory operatives are on Strike outside Morrisons in WakefieldFactory operatives are on Strike outside Morrisons in Wakefield
Factory operatives are on Strike outside Morrisons in Wakefield

“Morale has never been lower”, she added.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is focussed on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and these unfair changes to workers’ pensions will leave workers worse off every month.

"Unite will not stand for such behaviour from any employer, let alone one like Morrisons who is raking in massive profits during a cost-of-living crisis. Its flagrant profiteering and then cutting our members’ take home pay is a disgrace.”

Workers are being forced to increase their pension contributions while the supermarket giant reduces its contributions by the same amount. This Unite say will result in workers being significantly worse off in their pay packets and see Morrisons pocket the extra money despite already making nearly a billion pounds in profits.

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Additional changes that workers are being compelled to adopt include the removal of a long service award, enforced changes to jobs roles and a failure to correctly follow absence policies.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones added: "The strike action will inevitably cause shortages and empty shelves across Morrisons stores but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.

“Despite our best efforts over a number of meetings, it seems that Morrisons is not interested in resolving this dispute as they have refused to negotiate over the changes to our members' pensions and long service awards. We have attempted to get management to see sense and find a way forward but to no avail.”

A spokesperson for Morrisons said:

“We have made a number of new proposals to Unite including a 9 per cent pay award, a new Service Award scheme and improvements to the planned future Pension Scheme changes. Disappointingly, Unite has chosen to reject these new proposals without putting them to its members, and instead are continuing with strike action at two out of our seven logistics sites, initially over three days.

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“The two affected depots at Gadbrook and Wakefield are open but operating at a reduced capacity. We have put in place detailed contingency plans across the business and are confident that our customers, stores, suppliers and partners will not be significantly affected.

“We remain open to further dialogue with the union.”

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