Unite pleased Tesco and Stobart driver dispute is over

Commercial Motor
December 13, 2012

The long-running dispute between Unite members operating out of Tesco’s Doncaster distribution centre and their employer, Eddie Stobart, has come to an end after drivers voted today to accept a fresh redundancy package.

Of the 183 drivers facing redundancy, 150 voted in favour of accepting the new deal with only 19 against it, Unite national officer Adrian Jones told CM.com.

Jones declined to go into the details of the new package but said it was it was a “significant improvement” on the original redundancy terms and better than the most recent offer put forward by Eddie Stobart in late November.

Under the terms of the agreement, the drivers will remain in employment until 4 January but will not be obliged to attend work, added Jones.

“This is a victory for the drivers who have displayed unity, strength and resolution throughout this difficult time against a hardline employer,” he commented.

All 183 drivers are being given the opportunity to return to driving work for their original employer, Tesco, in addition to 212 other jobs being made available between Tesco and Eddie Stobart which include 90 warehouse jobs at Tesco and 122 driving jobs at Eddie Stobart. Drivers accepting any of the jobs will still get 75% of their redundancy settlement.

Eddie Stobart MD David Pickering described the agreement as “a positive way to resolve the dispute”, adding: “I’m extremely pleased for all parties that the drivers have accepted our latest offer”.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said it was “very pleased for all parties that an agreement between Eddie Stobart and the drivers has been reached and that this matter is now resolved”.

Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said the drivers were “pleased the dispute was over” but anxious about their job prospects and “extremely angry that they have given away good jobs”. They felt the financial settlement “in no way” compensated them for what they had lost, she added.

The settlement comes just days after Unite members employed by Stobart began an indefinite strike on 6 December and staged a further rally outside a Tesco store in Doncaster on 8 December.

The dispute between the drivers and Eddie Stobart dates back to August, when Tesco contracted out its transport operation at Doncaster and transferred the drivers to Eddie Stobart. Stobart subsequently issued termination notices to the drivers in early September, leading to a series of strikes that were backed by more than 90% of affected staff.

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