New strike threat as driver talks break down

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TALKS between Tesco lorry drivers and their new employer broke down yesterday with staff who have already staged a walk out threatening to take further action.

The drivers, who work at the supermarket giant’s Doncaster distribution centre, walked out earlier this month after being told they were facing redundancy.

Tesco recently transferred the operation of its depot, in Middle Bank, to national haulage contractor Eddie Stobart Ltd, a move which was extremely unpopular with the 180 drivers.

They claim that after a month of running the depot, Stobart told them it had conducted a review and was placing them all on notice of redundancy.

Drivers then called in their union Unite, which helped them organise the strike and led negotiations between the drivers and Eddie Stobart, which took place yesterday.

Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said her members had intially been offered statutory redundancy terms, which were unacceptable and were expecting a revised offer.

But what Eddie Stobart put on the table was described as “very disappointing”.

Ms Eisner said: “Our members had put great faith in today’s talks and that their new employer, Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) would be putting a fair offer on the table.

“They are very disappointed and extremely angry that this was not the case.

“Unite believes that there is no need for Stobart’s to get rid of these drivers.

“We don’t believe that the firm has the capacity in its existing network to properly service the Tesco distribution centre in Doncaster.

“Stobart’s would have to recruit new drivers on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once they have sacked our members.

“Further industrial action is very much on the cards, unless the company comes back with an improved offer.”

Nobody at Eddie Stobart could be contacted for comment on the negotiations yesterday.