Unite seeks to up awareness of drivers plight

Unite seeks to up awareness of drivers' plight

Drivers employed by transport giant Eddie Stobart are preparing to stage a demonstration outside a London Tesco store to bring the loss of their jobs to the attention of UK politicians.

Around 180 Doncaster-based delivery drivers, whose contracts were transferred from Tesco to Eddie Stobart in August with the acquisition of the Doncaster distribution centre, are preparing to launch a three-day strike that will start tomorrow (31 October). The drivers staged a 48-hour demonstration earlier this month.

According to Unite, the union representing the drivers, around 30 union members also plan to stage a protest outside a Tesco Express in Westminster, near to the Houses of Parliament, to coincide with the action planned in Doncaster.

"The drivers will be taking their case to London on Wednesday to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs and other opinion formers," Unite regional officer Steve Clark said. "Tesco behaved disgracefully when it transferred the Tesco drivers to Eddie Stobart in August - and this betrayal of the hard working drivers needs to gain wider coverage."

The union accused Eddie Stobart of "macho posturing" rather than entering into meaningful negotiations over the job losses. The union said that it believes the redundancies are unnecessary as Unite "does not believe that the firm has the capacity in its existing network to properly service the Tesco distribution centre at Doncaster".

"Eddie Stobart would have to recruit new drivers on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once it has sacked the current workforce," Unite suggested. 

For its part, Tesco emphasised it is hopeful the union and Eddie Stobart can reach a settlement.

"We hope that talks will resume as soon as possible between Unite and Eddie Stobart, and that a resolution to this dispute can be reached," a spokesperson told just-food. "We will continue working with Eddie Stobart to try to provide alternative jobs for all the affected drivers."

The spokesperson said Tesco has offered 90 positions at its warehouses in the Yorkshire area, as well as the option for all the drivers to take up alterative driving roles across the retailer's distribution network.