Delivery group Yodel is facing strike action after 250 of its couriers voted for industrial action over pay and conditions, potentially adding to disruption caused by lorry driver shortages.
The dispute, which could affect deliveries for Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Very from Yodel’s depots in Hatfield in Hertforshire, Glasgow and Wednesbury in the West Midlands, according to the GMB union, comes as campaigners leverage worker shortages, caused by a mix of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, to fight for better rights.
The Yodel drivers’ ballot in favour of action comes as drivers at the Booker distribution network, which is part of Tesco, and more than 200 drivers and engineers at Hanson, the cement producer, moved closer to industrial action in disputes over pay and conditions.
The GMB union said Yodel’s drivers were angry over issues including a lack of work-life balance, and the fact that agency workers were paid more than drivers directly employed by the company. Workers are also concerned over an alleged lack of payouts in lieu of annual leave and an alleged failure to honour contractual agreements on pay for holiday and sick leave.
GMB also accused Yodel of “dragging its heels” on substantial pay increases that would keep drivers from leaving for better-paying jobs elsewhere, especially at a time when employers across the country were scrambling to hire workers.
Nadine Houghton, a national officer for the GMB, said: “GMB drivers working for parcel delivery giant Yodel have returned a massive vote in favour of taking industrial action over pay and working conditions.
“With acute labour shortages across a range of sectors the time for working people to organise and take action to improve their lot is right now.
She said Yodel union members would now agree dates for their first round of strikes.
A Yodel spokesperson said: “We are in ongoing, meaningful talks with GMB officials with a further meeting scheduled for next week. We will continue to work in good faith and remain committed to find a resolution for our valued transport colleagues on any outstanding matters.”
A lack of lorry drivers, due in part to the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, has put pressure on UK supply chains and left some retailers struggling to refresh their stock.
The issue has combined with global disruption to logistics networks caused by the pandemic which led to the location and quantity of ships and containers being out of sync with demand. Ports are struggling to cope with a rapid return to business.
On Wednesday, the drinks group Fever-Tree said its profit margins had been “significantly impacted” by the increased costs prompted by the logistics disruption. The Restaurant Group, owner of the Wagamama chain, said it was experiencing rising labour costs and an increase in costs of distribution and food.