Company boss hits out after decision to strike

Striking Tesco lorry drivers
Striking Tesco lorry drivers

A LOGISTICS firm chief said he is ‘extremely disappointed’ in Unite after nearly 200 Tesco lorry drivers went on strike.

Drivers at the supermarket firm’s Middle Bank Depot are picketing after Eddie Stobart announced consultation over plans to class all 183 lorry jobs as “at risk of redundancy”.

They are also angry at Tesco for transferring their posts to Stobart’s, and claim the deal will worsen their pay and conditions.

Drivers marched last week from their base to the Tesco store at Church View and leafleted shoppers.

David Pickering, Eddie Stobart managing director, said the firm was in a “difficult position” but that it was “working hard” to find a resolution and suggest alternative employment.

He said: “I’ve been extremely disappointed, and I’m sure our affected drivers have as well, by the actions of Unite. Both Eddie Stobart and Tesco have worked hard to provide alternative employment opportunities for the drivers whose positions are at risk.

“During the early stages of consultation we had already earmarked 212 alternative jobs, within Eddie Stobart and Tesco, and significant financial packages to any employees taking up those alternative positions.

“However, those opportunities are being put at risk by the actions of Unite.

“How can we continue to seek support from Tesco in providing jobs and financial support packages when industrial action taken by our employees has an impact on them?

“Eddie Stobart has always tried to engage in meaningful discussions with Unite but we are not even halfway through the consultation process and already two separate periods of industrial action have been imposed on the drivers by Unite.

“At collective consultation meetings we made it clear to Unite that industrial action would put alternative jobs and financial support in jeopardy, but it was prepared to risk these benefits to the drivers and force a strike through.

“We feel the industrial action this week achieved nothing apart from ensuring the drivers lost income.

“Unite promised disruption to Tesco stores across Yorkshire but, in reality, this failed to materialise. All that happened was that the Doncaster drivers went home with less money in their pockets at the end of the week – how can that be in their best interests?”

Mr Pickering said they had spoken to drivers and said the only effect industrial action had was weakening negotiations.

Unite were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.