Eddie Stobart has played down concerns that a strike from drivers at its Doncaster distribution depot will hit deliveries to Tesco in the Yorkshire and Humber regions.

Eddie Stobart acquired the distribution centre from Tesco in August and then moved to make its 180 delivery drivers redundant in September as it integrated the facility into its existing network.

Unite, the union representing the drivers, announced that over 90% of its members voted in favour of industrial action yesterday (4 October). A 48-hour strike is due to begin next Tuesday. The union said that it expects the move to “severely disrupt” deliveries to Tesco.  

However, commenting on the strike Eddie Stobart MD David Pickering said that, if it goes ahead the company will “ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum”.

A source close to the situation told just-food that deliveries would continue largely uninterrupted.

However, Unite regional organiser Harriet Eisner told just-food that even if Eddie Stobart could draft in drivers the strike could still prove a disrupting force for Tesco.

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“Stobart will have to bring drivers in for a 48 hour period and they may or may not be able to do that. But there is an issue with Tesco’s warehouse staff. It is a mining community and the warehouse operatives will not want to pass the picket line… They have been threatened with disciplinary action because Tesco obviously want to pressure them to work, but the warehouse operatives could well choose to support the drivers,” Eisner predicted.

Eisner said that the strike “might well have an impact” on Tesco’s deliveries in the region. “The only people in the end who will know are Tesco shoppers in the area.”

Eisner said that the drivers had voted to strike because Eddie Stobart had failed to offer them an enhanced redundancy package. While the company has come up with around 100 alternative positions to offer the drivers, these are “all over the country” or come with on lesser terms, Eisner added.

Eddie Stobart said that it is disappointed with the strike decision in light of the 120 alternate jobs that it has put on the table.

“It’s very disappointing that Unite have forced the Doncaster drivers into proposed strike action as, since the original ballot was held, we have committed over 120 alternative driving roles within Stobart Group just one month into meaningful consultation and dialogue,” Pickering commented.