The food supply company that owns the lorry terror suspect Daniel Khalife escaped prison under is facing the threat of strike action from workers.
The GMB union announced a ballot of thousands of employees at Bidfood, which supplies chains including Subway, Five Guys and Stonegate pubs, after negotiations over pay broke down.
The union warned that industrial action could lead to an increase in safety concerns after Wandsworth inmate Khalife escaped by hiding under one of the firm’s lorries on September 6 this year.
Any industrial action could also lead to schools and prisons not having food delivered.
Bidfood supplies multiple chains around the country as well as carrying out deliveries for P&O Ferries, Haven holiday sites and German Donner Kebab.
Workers will begin casting their votes in the coming weeks.
Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “Bidfood refuses to acknowledge the loyal workforce deserves a cost of living pay increase during the worse cost of living crisis in a generation.
“Any strike as a result of this approach to industrial relations will lead food shortages across some of the high street’s biggest names.
“It’s also likely to lead to worse security in prisons if drivers delivering food to them vote to walk out.
“Wandsworth inmate Daniel Khalife escaped by hiding under a Bidfood lorry – any strike will not improve things.
“GMB is calling for an urgent meeting with the justice minister, calling on them to intervene in the dispute to avoid a further deterioration in prison safety.
“Bidfood is multi million pound profit making company with lucrative Government contracts – it can and should do better.”
Mark Wood, chief operating officer at Bidfood UK, said: “Following the rejection of a pay offer in July to employees represented by GMB, Bidfood has since sought feedback from both our employees and the trade unions, and put forward further proposals in response to that feedback. Negotiations have not broken down and as a business we have proposed, as per our national agreement, to continue constructive dialogue through ACAS.
“The offer we’ve put forward is a strong deal for this year’s review, particularly off the back of the pay deal agreed in 2022, which combined is a significant double-digit increase and positions us as a leading employer paying highly favourable salaries within our industry, especially in the face of prevailing market conditions.”
He added: “Whilst we are unable to comment on the Wandsworth incident, as it is very much an ongoing police investigation, we find it absurd and inaccurate that GMB would link this in any way to ongoing discussions over our pay offer and find it wholly inappropriate and inflammatory to do so.
“The majority of our operational workforce are not GMB members, and we believe that this will in no way jeopardise our ability to deliver service excellence to our customers.
“Bidfood prides itself on being a stable and secure business that invests heavily in its people and infrastructure. We have been listening to feedback and reinvesting into the business to ensure we can continue to be a highly attractive employer for both existing and new employees.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country