Tesco drivers walk out in contractor dispute

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TESCO lorry drivers engaged in a long-running dispute over the transfer of their depot to a transport contractor will walk out permanently next Thursday after the firm’s latest offer.

The drivers’ union Unite said Eddie Stobart Ltd had wanted to “get rid” of their members since it took control of Tesco’s Doncaster distribution centre last August and said they had been “boxed into a corner”.

Officials said the 180 drivers felt the latest financial offer from the company was “completely unsatisfactory” as it failed to take account of time served and the loss of pension and other rights.

National officer, Adrian Jones said: “The drivers face losing their jobs by Christmas and they will be taking continuous strike action from 12.05am on Thursday, December 6. They will fight on, buoyed up by the magnificent support from the Doncaster public.

“Our main aim as a union has been to protect jobs for the long term, jobs that are secure and provide permanent employment in the Doncaster area.

“We have discussed a financial settlement with Eddie Stobart Ltd for the drivers – but our priority is to save jobs.

“The drivers overwhelmingly rejected the financial offer which was designed to get them out the door and not to maintain employment.

“Tesco should hang its head in shame at what it has done to this committed and hard-working group of drivers.”

Stobart issued a statement which claimed previous strike action taken by the drivers had no effect, and said the new strike would not cause problems in the run-up to Christmas.

Managing director David Pickering said: “Our proposal was a 50 per cent increase in their statutory redundancy pay which would have seen them benefit from significant financial support so it’s disappointing to see them lose out.

“I’m sure they will feel let down by their representation from Unite.

“Had Unite concentrated on negotiations, rather than industrial action, then the drivers would be much better off financially.”