UK: Tesco, Eddie Stobart play down potential strike action impact
UK retailer Tesco and transport giant Eddie Stobart have said they are confident a decision by drivers at a Tesco distribution centre in Doncaster to strike next week will have "no impact" on deliveries.
The Doncaster Tesco drivers will strike from 6 December after rejecting the latest "completely unsatisfactory" offer to settle the long-running dispute.
"The drivers feel that Eddie Stobart wanted to get rid of them right from when they were transferred from Tesco to Stobart's in August. Unite believes that this has been the company's agenda all along," Unite the union said.
"The drivers face losing their jobs by Christmas and they will be taking continuous strike action from 00.05am on 6 December. They will fight on, buoyed up by the magnificent support from the Doncaster public."
However, in a joint statement, Eddie Stobart and Tesco said the decision will have "no impact" on deliveries to Tesco stores in the run-up to the festive period and customers can expect "the usual high standard of service and deliveries even if future industrial action is taken".
Eddie Stobart managing director David Pickering said: "We've worked hard over the last ten weeks with Unite, and more recently with ACAS, to come up with the best possible financial package for the drivers. Our proposal was a 50% increase in their statutory redundancy pay which would have seen them benefit from significant financial support so it's disappointing to see them lose out. I'm sure they will feel let down by their representation from Unite. Had Unite concentrated on negotiations, rather than industrial action, then the drivers would be much better off financially."
Eddie Stobart has been engaged in a three-month long dispute with the union since it announced plans to make the 180 drivers based at the Doncaster distribution depot redundant in September. The transport giant had acquired the facility one month earlier from Tesco.
Since entering the mandatory 90-day consultation period, the company has been unable to reach a settlement agreement with Unite, the union representing the drivers.
Unite has called on Eddie Stobart to offer an enhanced redundancy package and suggested the redundancies are unnecessary because Eddie Stobart, the union claims, does not have excess capacity in its distribution infrastructure. The union has staged two 48-hour strikes which, it said, have disrupted deliveries to Tesco stores in the region.
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