Ex-Eddie Stobart drivers stage demo at Tesco AGM

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eddie stobart Employment

Eddie Stobart announced plans to axe the 184 drivers in September 2012
Eddie Stobart announced plans to axe the 184 drivers in September 2012
Tesco faced a demo by ex-distribution workers at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday June 27 over unfair dismissal claims.

The protestors claimed the supermarket giant, together with Eddie Stobart, agreed to make 184 drivers redundant well before the staff had been consulted and a related employment tribunal hearing is underway.

More than 20 ex-drivers travelled from Yorkshire to protest outside the AGM, which took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre at Westminster.

Origins of dispute

The origins of the dispute go back to August 2012 when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to Eddie Stobart. The following month, Eddie Stobart issued 90 days’ notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed after that, according to trades union Unite.
This sparked a four month dispute. Eventually the drivers voted to accept a package from Eddie Stobart, which meant that they finished work in January 2013.

The AGM protest followed a silent demo outside the tribunal hearing in Sheffield on June 13​. At the time, a Tesco spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that employment responsibility for the drivers had transferred to Eddie Stobart in 2012.

‘We reached agreement’

“At the time, we reached an agreement with Unite for the term of that transfer, and we believe that we have done everything that was agreed at that time,” ​she said. “The tribunal is about what happened after that and is between the drivers and Eddie Stobart.”

Trades union Unite is supporting the unfair dismissal claim on behalf of the drivers at the tribunal. The union is also saying that a ‘protected award’ for the drivers should follow for the companies failing to genuinely engage in consultation.

A number of the former Tesco drivers are still working in the industry either as self-employed drivers or for agencies. However, a “good proportion”​ remained unemployed, said Unite.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Basically, our members are saying that Tesco and Stobarts 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.
“Since then the company has been employing agency drivers to do exactly the same jobs as they did, but on worse terms and conditions.
“Today’s demo is designed to drive home to Tesco’s shareholders what the company has unfairly done to our members, so the shareholders know that the company’s reputation will suffer as a result.”

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