The protestors are targeting Tesco depots at Middle Bank in Doncaster, Rawcliffe Road in Goole and Desoto Road in Widnes today (August 1) to highlight what they believe are their “unfair dismissals”. They also plan to leaflet Tesco stores across the UK during the day.
The origins of the dispute go back to August 2012 when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to Eddie Stobart Limited (ESL). The following month, ESL issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90-day termination period ended.
This sparked a four month dispute. Eventually the drivers voted to accept a package from ESL which meant that they finished work in January 2013.
A number of the former Tesco drivers are still working in the industry either as self-employed drivers or for agencies. However, a significant proportion of them remain unemployed.
The drivers claim ESL and Tesco had together agreed to make 184 drivers redundant well before the workers had been consulted. Their case is currently partly heard at an employment tribunal.
Trades union Unite is supporting the unfair dismissal claim. “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,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones.
“We will be demonstrating tomorrow to show that our members will not lie down and let Tesco and Stobarts get away with this exploitation. We want the public to know what sort of organisations they are – putting profits before people.
“Our members are seeking nothing, but justice. We want to see these employers brought to task, so that other workers do not have to suffer the same fate as the 184 drivers at Doncaster.”
Tesco claims that employment responsibility for the aggrieved drivers transferred to ESL in 2012 and that it is therefore a matter for ESL to address.