INDUSTRIAL action by Unite could have an impact on Christmas as drivers at DS Smith in Cornwall have voted to intensify the level of strikes over the festive period.  

Launceston based LGV drivers at DS Smith,  a national distributor of packaging cardboard and paper to retailers including Amazon, will escalate to cover the entire Christmas period.  

Unite the union has confirmed that its planned strikes will also impact on the ability of other DS Smith clients, such as Direct Wines, Cadbury and Haribo to package items for mail order delivery to customers during the festive season.  

Also impacted by the strikes will be delivery services for British Gypsum, VPK packaging, Cepac, Board 24, Sinat Portbury in addition to recycling at distribution centres for Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Co-Op, ASOS, Biffa and Veolia, with the union claiming that the action will lead to ‘a large pileup of uncollected cardboard which will cause significant disruption to the Christmas operations of these companies’.  

The drivers based at Launceston join colleagues in Sittingbourne, Kent, Avonmouth in Bristol and Tuxford in Nottinghamshire in taking the action, which comes after the rejection of a five percent pay offer.  

Unite the Union says that the offer is a ‘significant real terms pay cut’, as when the pay rise was supposed to be implemented in May, the rate of inflation on the RPI index was at 11.3 per cent.  

After an initial seven-day strike between November 20 and November 27, the union confirmed that drivers at the Launceston depot, employed by DS Smith Logistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of DS Smith PLC, will continue their strike from December 11 until December 23. 

The union added that the pay dispute comes on the back of the latest financial results for DS Smith PLC, which saw the company bring in a pre-tax profit of £661-million during 2022 to 2023, a 71 per cent increase on the year before.  

Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, said: “DS Smith has huge profits and can well afford to give these drivers a fair pay rise. The company’s refusal to do so is just sheer corporate greed. Unite’s top priority is our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the workforce at DS Smith have their union’s complete support.” 

Adrian Smith, Unite National Officer added: “The blame for the significant disruption caused to DS Smith’s clients lies squarely at the company’s own door. Unite has made it clear that we are prepared to enter talks at any time. 

“But instead of finding a way forward DS Smith has continually time wasted, including trying to find spurious legal reasons as to why the industrial action cannot go ahead. 

“The only way to resolve this dispute is for DS Smith to stop being greedy and make a reasonable offer.”