Staff at Swindon warehouses that supply supermarkets around the south west could go on strike before Christmas.

Nearly 150 members of Unite the Union who work at the Swindon cold storage site at Symmetry Park and ambient goods warehouse near Mannington Retail Park for Iceland may walk out next month and continue this industrial action into the new year due to a dispute over pay.

Unite has started balloting to see if the minimum-wage workers support the idea of going on strike at the busiest time of the year for these facilities.

This comes after the rejection of a two-year pay deal offered by logistics contractor GXO which Unite claims is below inflation.

GXO argues that its pay offer is above inflation, and in line with similar warehouse work around the town.

The ballot will close in two weeks' time. Unite suggested that an earlier consultative ballot indicated a willingness to take industrial action among its members.

If it does go ahead, GXO would have fewer staff available to help transport stock to supermarkets in the region, which may lead to some empty shelves and freezers in the run-up to Christmas.

Swindon Advertiser: The GXO warehouse in Symmetry Park, Swindon, that supplies Iceland supermarketsThe GXO warehouse in Symmetry Park, Swindon, that supplies Iceland supermarkets (Image: Google Maps)

Unite regional officer Paddy Brennan added: “Unite will be backing our members in their fight for a pay deal that addresses the cost-of-living crisis they are suffering.

“Without them, Mum won’t be going to Iceland for Christmas dinner this year.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “GXO is a multinational company with billions of pounds of revenue yet pays our members little more than the minimum wage.

“GXO needs to urgently reconsider its pay offer to the very workers who help generate its income.

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin – we campaign for some of the lowest paid workers in this country. “

Swindon Advertiser: The Iceland supermarket in Havelock SquareThe Iceland supermarket in Havelock Square (Image: Dave Cox)

GXO’s current offer is a six per cent increase for March 1, 2023, followed by a 5.3 per cent increase from March 1, 2024.

These rises would bring the average day rate up to £12.11 per hour, with pay rates from March 2024 ranging from £27,000 a year to £36,000 a year.

The day rate at GXO’s Swindon sites has risen in line with or above inflation each year since 2019.

A spokesperson said: “We believe our proposal is very fair.

“We remain committed to maintaining an open dialogue with our employees and their representatives.

“We will work closely with Iceland to ensure their stores are correctly supplied for the Christmas period."

An Iceland spokesperson added:"Iceland Foods is working closely with GXO regarding the proposed industrial action at their Swindon distribution centre.

"We are confident that there will be no disruption to our supply chain, and customers will have full access to our range of quality products at great prices over Christmas."