THE north west is at risk of severe pallet shortages over Christmas after workers at a Trafford Park supplier announced strike action.

Workers at CHEP UK, which supplies pallets to companies including Heineken and Heinz from its base on Village Way, are taking on their employers over a below-inflation pay offer of two per cent.

They are set to strike on December 3, 6, 10 and 13, before starting a continuous strike on December 17 if the dispute is not resolved.

The resulting pallet shortages pose a risk to supplies of some products over Christmas, as deliveries are either delayed or cancelled.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, the union representing the workers, said: “It is shocking that CHEP, which is enjoying a boom time, thinks it is somehow justifiable to offer its workers a below-inflation pay offer which is in reality a severe pay cut.

“CHEP is clearly more interested in boosting profits than the wellbeing of its workers.

“The union will be giving its full support to its members at CHEP until a fair rate of pay is secured.”

Messenger Newspapers: Sharon Graham (Image: PA).Sharon Graham (Image: PA).

Unite regional officer Ian McCluskey added: “CHEP’s customers are likely to be alarmed that they will not have sufficient pallets for their products but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.

“CHEP can afford to offer a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to do so, despite extended negotiations with Unite.

“Even at this late stage, strikes can still be avoided, provided CHEP returns to the negotiating table and makes a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

Approached by The Messenger for a response, a spokesperson for CHEP said negotiations are ‘ongoing’.

They said: “Acknowledging the uncertain times we are operating in, we have offered various pay and employee benefit proposals and will continue to discuss these as we seek an agreement that works for everyone involved.

“We have a long history of successful negotiations and we remain in close discussion with all parties as we try to resolve this matter.”

They added it is ‘business as usual’ for now.