The Unite union has warned that deliveries of Volkswagen Group cars could suffer “serious disruption” during January as drivers at Sheerness docks prepare for three months of strike action.
Drivers at logistics firm GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd based at Sheerness docks, Kent, are due to begin three months of strike action on Friday (10) in a dispute over pay, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union said, with “a series of strikes” set to continue until March 13.
In a statement issued to AM today (January 6) Volkswagen Group UK insisted that it would "maintain an adequate supply of cars and vans to our retailers through 2020, including Q1".
However, Unite regional officer, Philip Silkstone, said: “These strikes will cause serious disruption to Volkswagen Group vehicle deliveries to dealerships across the UK, including new plate models set for release in March."
Any disruption would be a blow to Volkswagen franchisees across the UK who suffered significant supply disruption following the introduction of the new WLTP fuel economy legislation and test procedures in September 1, 2018.
Unite members voted overwhelmingly (84.2 per cent) in favour of strike action, after GB Terminals, which is part of the GBA group, shut down pay talks after refusing a claim for a pay increase in-line with inflation and sought to impose a pay freeze, according to the union.
Silkstone said: “Unite has done everything it can to prevent this dispute from escalating, including offering Acas-mediated talks, but so far GB Terminals has refused to see sense.
“The responsibility for this situation lies solely with GB Terminals who will have to explain why its actions have led to disruption and losses for Volkswagen.
“The drivers are simply asking for a pay rise in-line with inflation and do not want to go on strike. It would be in the interests of everyone involved if strike action is avoided. For that to happen GB Terminals needs to come back with a pay offer our members can accept.”
Unite has notified GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd that six 24 hour strikes will take place on the January 10, 17, 24 and 31 and February 7 and 14.
Two 48 hour strikes will also be held on February 20 and 27, in addition to a four day strike that will commence on March 9.
Volkswagen Group UK said: "The Volkswagen Group imports vehicles to the UK through a variety of ports, including Sheerness.
" are aware of an ongoing dispute between the Unite Union and the local operator GBA and, as a matter of principal, we support efforts towards a constructive resolution.
"With adequate stocks in the country and an efficient logistics operation, we remain confident that we will maintain an adequate supply of cars and vans to our retailers through 2020, including Q1."