Distribution drivers for Tesco, locked in a row with distribution firm Eddie Stobart, are to take their grievances to Westminster today (October 31).
The drivers, based in Doncaster and members of Unite the union, will take their protest to the Tesco Express store near the Houses of Parliament, between 11am to 1pm in a bid to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs.
The row erupted after 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 after the 90 days.
The Westminster protest will coincide with a three-day strike − taking place on Wednesday, October 31, Thursday November 1 and Friday November 2 − by the 180 Doncaster drivers.
Unite said that the strike would cause widespread disruption to deliveries to Tesco stores across the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Unite regional officer, Steve Clark said: “The drivers will be taking their case to London on Wednesday to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs and other opinion formers.
“Tesco behaved disgracefully when it transferred the Tesco drivers to Eddie Stobart in August. This betrayal of the hard working drivers needs to gain wider coverage.
“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 seems intent on macho posturing rather than genuine negotiations.”
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.
The union argues there is no need for Stobart’s to get rid of these drivers. The firm does not have the capacity in its existing network to service properly the Tesco distribution centre at Doncaster, it claimed.
“Eddie Stobart would have to recruit new drivers on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once it has sacked the current workforce,” said the union.
But last week, David Pickering, Eddie Stobart md, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “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.”