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BRADFORD, United Kingdom -- Morrisons' distribution staff could cut off supplies to shops, in a strike to protest the retailer's decision to revert to manual processes after an acquisition brought along with it advanced supply chain solutions that Morrisons failed to integrate.
The supermarket is replacing sophisticated the supply chain systems inherited with the acquisition of Safeway with its own manually intensive processes. Staff at all Morrisons and former Safeway depots were polled last week over the new working practices and concerns about job security. The result will be announced at the end of August.
If the strike goes ahead, stores could suffer, said Martin White, former Sainsbury's supply chain director and now retail specialist at consultant Langsdale Crook. "The scale of dissatisfaction that Morrisons is facing is unprecedented," White said. "Morrisons systems were pretty rudimentary. The challenge is that Safeway supply chain IT systems were adequate to very good."
Jude Brimble, national officer at the GMB union, says the retailer has had to hire more staff to maintain service delivery under the Morrisons system. "Disputes about pay and changing over to manual working practices form part of our ballot. They are working in chaos," she said.
A Morrisons spokesman said, "Where there are local employment issues under discussion we are dealing with them at a local level."
--Miya Knights, courtesy of Computing, VNU Business Media Europe