Eddie Stobart Doncaster strike action underway

Former Tesco drivers facing redundancy at new employer Eddie Stobart have commenced a 48-hour walkout at the group's Doncaster DC.

Around 100 of the protesters made themselves heard today at the nearby Tesco store in Doncaster, with the town's mayor in attendance. Public reaction to the action was described by Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner as "amazing".

Last month Unite members at Eddie Stobart's Doncaster DC voted for strike action. This followed the operator's decision to make all 183 drivers' roles redundant, having decided to remove the transport operation at the site and manage work from within the wider Eddie Stobart network.

The drivers had transferred across under TUPE regulations to Eddie Stobart from former employer Tesco at the start of August.

Eisner accused the operator of attempting to rid itself of the drivers as "quickly and as cheaply as they can".

In response David Pickering, Eddie Stobart MD, said: "It's very disappointing that the drivers have decided to strike as we are not even halfway through the consultation process and we have already committed over 120 alternative driving roles within Stobart Group, with Tesco offering an additional 90 warehousing jobs in the Yorkshire region.

"We've put contingency plans in place to ensure that store deliveries are maintained and, so far, we've seen no significant disruption," Pickering said.

However, Unite has complained that the jobs being offered to its driver members are either warehouse roles, or driving jobs elsewhere in the network on different terms and conditions. Eisner added that the nearest driving job on offer is in Chesterfield, more than 30 miles away.

Last month, according to Unite around 40 Eddie Stobart drivers who took part in a protest over the planned redundancies were turned away from work when arriving for their shifts later that day.

Transport secretary announces £170m road improvement boost

The transport secretary has revealed some of the road improvement schemes to receive funding over the next three years.

The Highways Agency will look to complete 57 road improvements by March 2015, part of a programme intended to reduce congestion on Britain’s motorways and A-roads.

The schemes confirmed so far will receive a total of £170m, which will form part of the £217m project to reduce congestion revealed by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year..

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the Conservative Party conference yesterday (8 October): “These £217m road improvements prove the government’s determination to accelerate growth and cut congestion.

“Keeping traffic moving is vital to securing prosperity. By removing bottlenecks and improving access to local enterprise zones, key international trading ports and communities, these road schemes will help get people to and from work, and power the economy.”

The larger plans revealed so far include an £11m scheme to widen junction 4 of the M5 near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and a £4.9m scheme to widen approach roads and slip roads and create a left turn lane on junction 5 of the M27 near Eastleigh. McLoughlin also revealed a £7.7m scheme to widen the A14 in Cambridgeshire between junctions 31 and 32 and install three sign gantries across the carriageway.

The transport secretary revealed plans for 10 improvements in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, seven in the South West, eight in the South East, six in the North West, 20 in the Midlands and six in the East.

The M1 is to receive significant improvements on junctions 33, 40, 41 and 44. The M5 will also receive a number of improvements to its slip roads in Exeter, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

These schemes form part of the government’s growth initiative, in which the Chancellor pledged £217m transport funding in the Autumn Statement last year. The schemes announced last year include the Kingskerwell bypass in Devon and the Lincoln Eastern bypass. The Lincoln Eastern bypass received £50m of government funding and work is expected to begin in December, while construction for the Kingskerwell bypass has begun and is set to be completed in December 2015.

A third announcement is expected to come in 2013, revealing which schemes will receive the final part of the £217m road improvement fund.