British union Unite suspends Tesco strikes after new pay offer

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A man looks at products on a shelf inside a Tesco Extra superstore near Manchester, Britain, January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - British trade union Unite said on Wednesday that pre-Christmas strike action by workers at four Tesco (TSCO.L) distribution centres had been suspended after an improved pay offer.

Unite said it was recommending its members accept the supermarket group's offer of a minimum of a 5.5% pay increase backdated to July 2021 and an additional 0.5% from February 2022. The union had previously rejected a 4% offer.

If the deal is rejected in a ballot of members then fresh strike action will be announced, but that is unlikely to be before January 2022, the union said.

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"We’re pleased to have agreed a pay deal with Unite that it recommends to its members. Colleagues at these centres will no longer be taking industrial action," a Tesco spokesperson said.

"We look forward to delivering a fantastic Christmas for customers," the spokesperson added.

Tesco still faces possible walkouts by more than 5,000 members of the Usdaw union at depots in Daventry, Peterborough, Hinckley and Lichfield in central England, Goole in northern England, Southampton in southern England, Livingston in Scotland and Magor in Wales.

Usdaw has said its members will strike from Dec. 20 to Dec. 24 but it is still in dialogue with Tesco, with talks set to resume next week.

The Tesco disputes are examples of the kind of inflation-influenced wage pressure that might unsettle the Bank of England as it ponders whether to become the world's first big central bank to raise interest rates from their pandemic lows.

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Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Alexander Smith

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