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Pay properly! Tesco fury at 'huge bonuses' for bosses after 'empty shelves' HGV plea

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The Supermarket giant has warned that Christmas could be disrupted, as the empty shelves currently caused by a shortage of drivers may lead to panic buying in the run-up to the festive period. They express concerns that the situation will deteriorate significantly over the coming months as there already are genuine shortages, while retailers have expressed their worries that a sudden surge in demand would make restocking even harder than it is at present.

Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco’s head of distribution and fulfilment in the UK, voiced this at a Cabinet Office meeting last week expressing his anxieties that the situation may be “ten times worse”.

He warned ITV News: “Our concern is that the pictures of empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic buying.”

Tesco expressed their concerns to ITV about the industry-wide issue, and identified that urgent action is needed to address the national shortage of HGV drivers.

During the meeting the UK’s largest supermarket revealed it has a shortfall of 800 lorry drivers, and urged the Government to temporarily ease restrictions on foreign workers to help alleviate the supply chain issue.

However, Tesco has come under scrutiny for issuing bonuses to bosses in their ranks which are reportedly derived from “attacking transport costs, especially drivers’ pay”.

Founder of talkSPORT, and former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie made the allegations and expressed his fury on Twitter, urging the company to “pay properly”.

He said: “A Tesco boss claimed on ITV there will be empty shelves unless they find 800 HGV drivers. Tesco is in the s*** because bosses have received huge bonuses by attacking transport costs, especially drivers’ pay.

“It’s not a govt issue. The drivers have you by the balls. Pay properly.”

READ MORE: Tesco warns empty shelves could get ’10 times worse’

Mr MacKenzie claims the shortage is not due to Government-imposed restrictions but is instead due to insufficient remuneration being made to delivery drivers.

It remains unclear whether Mr Mackenzie refers to the incident in 2020, where the supermarket giant handed boss Dave Lewis £6.4million, including £4.8million in bonuses.

Mr Lewis, who was the chief executive, received £2.4million cash bonuses and another £2.4million long-term share bonuses on top of his £1.6million in salary and benefits.

To address the shortage of drivers Tesco has been offering new recruits bonuses of £1,000 since July.

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However, Andrew Woolfenden expressed that the company has only managed to attract as many drivers as it has lost to rival businesses over the summer, meaning they’re still at a loss.

Industry experts have said that in order to improve staffing levels there needs to be better pay and improved working conditions.

They also put the shortage largely down to Brexit and the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to 14,000 European drivers returning home and just 600 of those returning.

A Tesco spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We have good availability, with deliveries arriving at our stores and distribution centres across the UK every day.

“While the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers has led to some distribution challenges, we’re working hard to address these and to plan for the months ahead, so that customers can get everything they need.”

However, responses to Kelvin’s tweet from Britons expressed their thoughts and concerns over the situation.

One user, @gillpind, worried that the situation “will increase prices for all!”, while @AndrewWestdene claimed that the “treatment of drivers is a big issue” and alleged that “these logistic firms still don’t want to pay more wages”.

The sentiment was echoed by @LiamDanSalty who said “Pay them what they are worth and stop pocketing the margin for yourselves”.



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