Workers employed by DHL at Jaguar Land Rover’s West Midlands and Merseyside plants have edged closer to strike action after a final pay offer was rejected by 96%.
Unite is now going ahead with a postal ballot for a mandate to carry out industrial action following the vote on its 2020 pay claim.
The union has also warned that its members are now “facing a more real threat of being laid off with no pay” following the end of the Government’s furlough scheme and the continuing semi-conductor issues still affecting production.
Unite added that more down time is already planned across JLR’s UK sites.
A spokesperson for DHL Supply Chain said: “Following constructive talks with Unite in recent weeks, during which we presented our comprehensive pay proposals, we are disappointed that the union and its members are balloting on industrial action.
“We look forward to further talks to reach a satisfactory outcome for all parties, but contingency plans are being drawn up to minimise disruption should the action go ahead.”
A Unite update issued to its members said: “As a result of a consultative ballot on DHL/JLR’s final offer for our 2020 pay claim, you the members voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer by 96%.
“We are now proceeding with the postal ballot for a mandate for industrial action and a timeline for this will be shared in the coming days and would like to thank all our members for their stoic support at this time and in the coming weeks.
“Unfortunately our members are now facing a more threat of being laid off with no pay.
“Now that the Government furlough scheme has ended and the semi-conductor issue is still affecting production, more down time is already planned across the sites.
“Due to the variations of contracts for different sites Halewood is the first site to exhaust any pay protection.
“DHL/JLR have made it clear that any new banked hours proposal will only be offered on the acceptance of their derisory pay offer that our members have rejected.
“Despite clearly having the ability to protect their employees income DHL/JLR have made it clear that there will ne no pay for our members for upcoming lay-offs.
“Your negotiating committee have tried in vain with DHL/JLR to find even a temporary resolution that would avoid this draconian position which is nothing short of industrial blackmail.
“Just for context, back in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and lockdown was enforced it was JRL/DHL that wanted all of us to enter into banked hours; that was until they discovered that the Government’s Job Retention Scheme will cover 80% of our wages.
“Fast forward to October 2021 and the end of furlough and having accessed in the region of £97m of tax payers’ money DHL/JLR are flatly refusing to protect their employees pay and put our members into inevitable hardship.
“The negative impact on an already fractured workforce is very concerning and we urge DHL/JLR to re-consider their position and endeavour to find a resolution and avoid any further discord.”