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UK: DS Smith drivers delivering cardboard packaging striking over pay

Christian Fernsby |
Strikes by a fleet of DS Smith LGV drivers delivering packaging cardboard and paper to major retailers, including Amazon, have escalated to cover the entire Christmas period, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said.

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The strikes will compromise the ability of DS Smith clients, which also include Direct Wines, Cadbury and Haribo, to package items for mail order delivery to customers during the festive season.

The drivers, based in Launceston in Cornwall, Sittingbourne in Kent, Avonmouth in Bristol and Tuxford in Nottinghamshire, have rejected a five per cent pay offer.

This is a significant real terms pay cut when the real rate of inflation, RPI, stood at 11.3 per cent when the pay rise should have been implemented in May.

An initial seven days of strikes took place between 20 and 27 November. The next round of strike action begins on 11 December and lasts until 23 December.

The workers are employed by DS Smith Logistics, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of DS Smith PLC. According to its latest financial report DS Smith PLC brought in a pretax profit of £661 million during 2022/23 a 71 per cent increase on the year before.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “DS Smith has huge profits and can well afford to give these drivers a fair pay rise. The company’s refusal to do so is just sheer corporate greed. Unite’s top priority is our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the workforce at DS Smith have their union’s complete support.”

The drivers also provide delivery services for British Gypsum, VPK Packaging, Cepac, Board 24 and Sinat Portbury.

In addition, the drivers pick up recycling at distribution centres for Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Coop, ASOS, Biffa and Veolia.

A large pileup of uncollected cardboard will cause significant disruption to the Christmas operations of these companies.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The blame for the significant disruption caused to DS Smith’s clients lies squarely at the company’s own door. Unite has made it clear that we are prepared to enter talks at any time.

"But instead of finding a way forward DS Smith has continually time wasted, including trying to find spurious legal reasons as to why the industrial action cannot go ahead. The only way to resolve this dispute is for DS Smith to stop being greedy and make a reasonable offer.”


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