Unite the union said its members will strike from December 6, after describing the offer as “completely unsatisfactory” and reporting that its members felt “boxed into a corner” by Eddie Stobart management.
“The drivers face losing their jobs by Christmas and they will be taking continuous strike action from 00.05am on Thursday, December 6,” said Adrian Jones, national officer at Unite. “They will fight on, buoyed up by the magnificent support from the Doncaster public.”
Unite drivers rejected the firm’s final financial support package offering a 50% increase on their statutory maximum redundancy pay, following two-days of talks facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
After rejecting the proposed £650 per week of service they will now receive only £430 per week redundancy pay.
“We have discussed a financial settlement with Eddie Stobart for the drivers – but our priority is to save jobs,” said Jones. “The drivers overwhelmingly rejected the financial offer which was designed to get them out the door and not to maintain employment.”
In addition to the redundancy package, Eddie Stobart and Tesco also made 212 job opportunities available to the drivers – 90 warehousing positions and 122 driving jobs.
David Pickering, the transport firm’s md, said: “We’ve worked hard over the past 10 weeks with Unite, and more recently with ACAS, to come up with the best possible financial package for the drivers.
‘Disappointing to see them lose out’
“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.”
Pickering said the drivers will feel let down by representation from Unite. “Had Unite concentrated on negotiations, rather than industrial action, then the drivers would be much better off financially,” he claimed.
The deepening row follows Tesco’s decision to transfer the running of the distribution centre to Eddie Stobart on August 5. The new employer issued 183 Tesco drivers with 90 days’ notice of termination of employment on September 5, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90 days was up.
Jones said: “Tesco should hang its head in shame at what it has done to this committed and hard working group of drivers.”
The drivers have taken strike action throughout October and November − even taking their grievances to Westminster last month.
No one from Tesco was available for comment.