Transport firm Eddie Stobart was accused this week (October 24) of “throwing their toys out of the pram in a fit of pique and walking away,” by Unite the union, as the row over drivers for Tesco at the Doncaster distribution hub deepened.
But David Pickering, Eddie Stobart md, said: “We are not just disappointed by Unite's strategy during these consultations, but are also baffled by their whole approach and feel the drivers are really losing out.”
After the stalled talks yesterday, the union said its driver members would prepare for a 72-hour strike next week. The union said its 180 drivers would strike on Wednesday, October 31, Thursday, November 1 and Friday, November 2.
The 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.
Unite regional officer, Harriet Eisner said that Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) had promised a new offer this week, but walked away from the talks when it heard about the possibility of strike action.
“Stobart had a real opportunity to settle this damaging dispute , which is hitting its client, Tesco by coming forward with a fair offer – but they threw their toys out of the pram in a fit of pique and walked away,” said. Eisner.
‘Losing their jobs by Christmas’
“Our members, who face losing their jobs by Christmas, will be striking for three days to save their jobs. Unite is keen to negotiate a fair and just settlement – but Eddie Stobart has shown a lack of seriousness in trying to settle this dispute.”
The union claimed there was no need for Stobart “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.
The transport firm would have to recruit new drivers on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once it has sacked the current workforce, it claimed.