Müller logistics staff announce six-day walkout over rota changes

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/Monty Rakusen
GettyImages/Monty Rakusen

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Unite says the changes are ‘detrimental’ to staff’s quality of life, but Müller claims that evolving business needs justify the move.

Trade union Unite and Müller UK & Ireland are at loggerheads over changes to the dairy processor’s milk delivery rota that will require staff responsible for milk deliveries to work on a five days on, two days off system. As a result of the dispute, around 70 Müller HGV drivers and shunters at the company’s Severnside distribution hub in Gloucestershire will walk out for six days in September and October.

The industrial action is set to take place on September 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 as well as on October 1, with further action possible if the dispute is not resolved.

Unite says that Müller’s rota system ‘contravenes an agreement with Unite signed by the company earlier this year’ and is ‘detrimental’ to the staff’s quality of life. “Muller’s knows very well that the new rotas will negatively impact our members’ quality of life because it recently signed a deal with Unite ruling such changes out,”​ Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said. “So, Muller should step back from breaking that agreement. Our members have Unite’s full backing in the stand they are taking.”

Unite regional officer Amy Roberts added: “Our members will not move until Muller keeps its promises. The impact the strikes will have on Muller’s customers is a direct consequence of the company’s bad faith actions. Muller signed an agreement; it needs to abide by it.”

Müller’s Severnside plant supplies M&S and Waitrose as well as Sainsbury’s and Tesco. The dairy processor has stressed that supply wouldn’t be affected by the strike.

“Following the introduction of rota changes which reflect the evolving needs of our business, a small number of logistics employees at our Severnside site voted in favor of industrial action,”​ a Müller UK & Ireland spokesperson told DairyReporter. “It is important to stress that these changes do not relate to pay and we have thorough plans in place to ensure deliveries of dairy products to our customers will not be affected.”

Earlier this month, a number of Müller factories and distribution hubs were targeted by climate activists who damaged property - including HGV trucks - in a bid to disrupt fresh milk supply to stores nationwide. West Midlands Police reported that Müller’s Willenhall plant alone had suffered damage totaling £80,000 (US$91,000).

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