Ex-Tesco drivers protest at ‘unfair dismissals’ hearing

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eddie stobart Employment

Unite claims Eddie Stobart colluded with Tesco to deny workers a proper consultation on the redundancy proposals
Unite claims Eddie Stobart colluded with Tesco to deny workers a proper consultation on the redundancy proposals
Former Tesco drivers, who worked at a Tesco distribution centre in Doncaster, are staging a silent demonstration outside an employment tribunal hearing in Sheffield today (Friday June 13), according to Unite the union.

Unite is supporting an unfair dismissals claim on behalf of 184 drivers who worked at the centre. It claimed distribution firm Eddie Stobart Ltd and Tesco agreed to make the drivers redundant without the consultation required by employment law.

The union further claimed the drivers should receive a ‘protected award’ in recompense for the lack of an official  consultation period.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones claimed that the firms had colluded to deny workers their rights. “Basically, our members are saying that Tesco and Stobart colluded to sack our members who had fought hard for terms and conditions over many years, so that they could be replaced by cheaper drivers.”

‘Worse terms and conditions ’

Since the drivers were made redundant, agency drivers had been employed to do exactly the same work but on worse terms and conditions, claimed Jones.

But a spokeswoman for Tesco told FoodManufacture.co.uk that employment responsibility for the drivers had been transferred to Eddie Stobart Ltd in 2012. 

“At the time, we reached an agreement with Unite for the term of that transfer, and we believe we have done everything that was agreed at that time,” ​said the spokeswoman. 

“The tribunal is about what happened after that, and is between the drivers and Eddie Stobart Ltd.” 

FoodManufacture.co.uk has asked Eddie Stobart for a response but, so far, none has been forthcoming.

Termination of employment

The row began in August 2012 when Tesco’s transport workforce was transferred from the retailer to Eddie Stobart. The union argued in September 2012 the transport firm issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90-days were up.

Speaking in September 2012, Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner told this website:“Tesco wants to drive down costs and the only way it can do that is by transferring the engagements – it's washing its hands​ of any responsibility.” 

After a four-month dispute, the drivers voted to accept a package​ from Eddie Stobart and finished work in January 2013. When the deal was agreed in December 2012, a spokesman for Eddie Stobart claimed the deal would result in the drivers benefitting from an increase in their contractual redundancy pay allowance.

Some of the former Tesco drivers now work as self-employed drivers or for agencies but a significant number remain unemployed, said Unite.  

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