Co-op drivers vote to strike in Stobart row

By Michelle Perrett contact

- Last updated on GMT

Co-op
Co-op

Related tags: Eddie stobart, Trade union

Co-op drivers have voted in support of strike action over the transfer of 87 jobs in Coventry to logistics company Eddie Stobart. 

The national board of The Co-operative Group has agreed the transfer under the employment protection TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment legislation) for the drivers based at Coventry to Eddie Stobart next month. 

However Unite, the union, raised “serious concerns”​ over the transfer fearing job losses.

A ballot of 700 Unite driver members​ showed support for both strike action and/or industrial action short of a strike. The results showed that 77% voted for strike action while 84% were also in favour of industrial action short of a strike.

‘Fight hard to protect’

Unite national officer for retail distribution Adrian Jones said: “The ballot result is a strong mandate from our members to continue to fight hard to protect their pay and conditions.

“We will now be consulting with our members as to the next steps regarding industrial action. In the meantime, we call on the management to sit down and discuss the situation constructively under the auspices of the conciliation service ACAS.

“All Unite is asking is that we have more time to investigate the viability of the comprehensive list of suggestions put forward by our shop stewards at Coventry to increase efficiency and reduce costs.” 

A spokesperson for the Co-op said: “We are disappointed by the ballot outcome. We have agreed that all colleagues will see their terms and conditions protected when they transfer to Eddie Stobart Ltd and that Unite will be the recognised union for driver colleagues post-transfer. 

‘Offered to meet ACAS’

"We are working hard to resolve the matter and have already offered to meet ACAS ​[the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] with Unite. We are supporting our colleagues in Coventry and have worked with Eddie Stobart to ensure that they are fully informed of their individual choices.”

In 2012, Unite was embroiled in a long-running dispute​ when Tesco in Doncaster transferred 184 workers to the logistics company. The union said the drivers were issued with a termination of employment notice and many are still out of work.

The Co-op driver members balloted were based at Birtley, Newcastle; Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland; Castlewood, north Derbyshire; Coventry; Inverness; Newhouse, Lanarkshire; Plymouth and Thurrock in Essex.

What they say about the row:

Unite​:

“We will now be consulting with our members as to the next steps regarding industrial action. In the meantime, we call on the management to sit down and discuss the situation constructively under the auspices of the conciliation service, ACAS.”

The Co-op:

“We are disappointed by the ballot outcome. We have agreed that all colleagues will see their terms and conditions protected when they transfer to Eddie Stobart Ltd and that Unite will be the recognised union for driver colleagues post-transfer.” 

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