MORRISONS says it is due to meet union representatives today amid news that some of its warehouse workers are balloting for industrial action – with pre-Christmas strikes looming.

The affected distribution centres are Northwich, in Cheshire, and Wakefield. The centres are responsible for distributing food and goods to Morrisons supermarkets throughout the North West, Yorkshire and beyond.

The dispute is a result of the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, receiving what has been branded an entirely unacceptable pay offer. The Unite union claims most workers have been offered a three per cent pay increase, although the lowest paid have been offered just two per cent. Unite adds both offers are far below the current rate of inflation, with the Retail Price Index standing at 4.9 per cent.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Morrisons is a multi-million pound operation which has financially benefitted from our members working throughout the pandemic. Workers will simply not accept a pay offer which is a real terms pay cut.

“Unite prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of all its members and our members at Morrisons will receive the union’s full support in their campaign for a fair pay rise.”

The industrial action ballot opened yesterday and closes on November 30. If members vote for industrial action then strikes could begin by mid-December.

A Morrisons spokesman said: “We are still in formal negotiations and are due to meet with Unite again today.”

Meanwhile, a legal firm representing thousands of Morrisons workers has urged the supermarket’s new owners to bring an end to the equal pay dispute.

Thousands of current and former Morrisons shop floor staff moved a step closer in their fight for equal pay following a new ruling at an employment tribunal in September.

In the decision handed down by Judge Davies at Leeds Employment Tribunal, it was confirmed that Morrisons’ retail workers can rely on the supermarket’s distribution centre workers as comparators in their claims for equal pay.

Mostly female retail staff have been fighting for similar wages to those of mostly male workers in warehouses.

The case will proceed to further hearings examining whether store worker and distribution roles are of equal value, and whether there is a reason - other than sex discrimination - for the two jobs not to be paid equally.

The tribunal’s move came just before the £7 billion takeover of Morrisons by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) was given the go-ahead by shareholders..

A partner at Leigh Day, representing 2,500 Morrisons shop workers in the dispute, said: “We hope that the new owners feel the same and bring an end to the equal pay dispute by paying shop floor workers what they are worth.”

Morrisons declined to comment when contacted by the T&A.