Unite, the largest union in the country, is prepared to continue negotiating for a settlement in the Doncaster Tesco drivers’ dispute, as the drivers start continuous strike action tonight.
The 180 drivers will start striking at 00.05am on Thursday (6 December) in their four-month dispute with their new employer Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL).
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The drivers have been very badly treated by the ESL management and will be taking continuous strike action in order to save their jobs.
“Unite is prepared to continue negotiating with the company, but there has to be genuine goodwill shown and constructive proposals on the table from the management.”
The drivers will be picketing the Tesco Doncaster distribution centre at Middle Bank from 10.00am tomorrow (Thursday). They will also be demonstrating at Tesco stores in Doncaster and the surrounding region in the run-up to Christmas, so that as many of the supermarket’s customers are made aware of Tesco’s shameful behaviour to the drivers.
The Unite drivers’ slogan at the Tesco outlets will be: You shop - we sack.
The drivers have also organised a demonstration in Doncaster on Saturday (8 December), starting at 10.00 am from the depot and marching to the city centre. The march will finish at the Tesco store, Church View, Doncaster
DN1 1RE, where there will be a rally.
The 180 drivers feel they have been “boxed into a corner” by ESL which has wanted to get rid of them right from when they were transferred from Tesco in August. The drivers voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s offer as “completely unsatisfactory”.
The origins of the dispute go back to August when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to ESL and then, on 5 September, ESL issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers will be re-employed once the 90-days are up.
So far, there have been five days of strike action and a demonstration outside the Tesco Express store in Westminster to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs and opinion formers.
Unite believes that there is no need for ESL to get rid of these drivers and does not believe that the firm has the capacity in its existing network to properly service the Tesco distribution centre at Doncaster. ESL would have to recruit new drivers on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once it has sacked the current workforce.
Unite has campaigned for these jobs to be safeguarded once the TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking [Protection of Employment] arrangements came into force at the beginning of August.
Note to news editors:
- For further information please contact Adrian Jones on 07739 654 859 and/or Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner on 07768 931 272 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693 940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.