Former drivers, who used to work on the Tesco distribution contract in Doncaster, will stage a demonstration on Saturday (3 May) to show that there was no reason for their then employer Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) to have made them redundant in January 2013.
The drivers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, say that ESL is for the first time directly employing agency drivers on worse terms and conditions in the South Yorkshire town to fulfill the Tesco contract.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Basically, our members are saying that there was no need for ESL to have made them redundant at the beginning of 2013 – as the company is employing agency drivers to do exactly the same jobs as they did, but on worse terms and conditions.”
The demonstration will be held at the Tesco distribution centre at Middle Bank, Doncaster, DN4 5JJ at 11.00 on Saturday.
Unite is currently pursuing an unfair dismissal claim on behalf of the 184 drivers. The union is also saying that ‘protected award’ for the drivers was insufficient. The employment tribunal to hear this case is expected in June/July.
The origins of the dispute go back to August 2012 when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to ESL and then in September, ESL issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90-days were up.
This sparked a four month dispute. Eventually the drivers voted to accept a package from ESL which meant that they finished work in January 2013.
Adrian Jones said: “There was never a good reason for ESL to terminate our members’ employment. It has struggled over the last 15 months to fulfil its contract obligations to Tesco.
“ESL has tried to cover the work from other drivers in the ESL network, but now it has had to resort to using agency drivers directly for the first time at the Doncaster distribution centre to cover the work.
“It is very clear to Unite that there was never a case to make the drivers redundant originally – it was purely a cost-cutting exercise by ESL and now it has been found out.
“We hope that what we believe is the company’s duplicitous behaviour will be fully exposed at the employment tribunal hearing this summer.”
The majority of the former Tesco drivers are still working in the industry either as self-employed drivers or for agencies – however, some remain unemployed.
Note to news editors:
For further information please contact Unite national officer Adrian Jones on 07739 654 859, Unite regional officer, Harriet Eisner on 07768 931 272, former Unite senior steward Trevor Cheetham on 07896 047 930,
Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693 940 or Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.