Striking Tesco delivery drivers from Doncaster take protest over redundancy threat to Tesco store in Westminster

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Striking Tesco delivery drivers (pictured) from Doncaster, who face losing their jobs by Christmas, are taking their protest to a Tesco Express store next to the Houses of Parliament.

They hope to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs who have offices at Portcullis House, round the corner from the Tesco outlet.

A delegation of drivers and officials is expected to meet the Labour leader and local MP, Ed Miliband, later.

The demo will coincide with a three-day strike, beginning this morning by the 180 Doncaster drivers.

Unite says the 72-hour stoppage will cause widespread disruption to deliveries to Tesco stores across Yorkshire and the Humber region.

Speaking on the picket line outside Tesco’s vast distribution centre, Unite Doncaster branch secretary, David Beck told UnionNews: “They’ve got excess capacity within the ESL network, that’s why they got the contract, but if they get their way, there’ll be no drivers or tractor units at this site.

“If they want  to offer us new jobs under this new contract, then it would have to be on a like-for-like basis

“The resolve is steadfast among the drivers, absolutely steadfast.”

Officials accuse the drivers’ new employer, Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL), of ‘walking away’ from talks last week that could have settled the 4-month dispute.

Unite regional officer, Steve Clark said: “Tesco behaved disgracefully when it transferred the Tesco drivers to ESL in August – and this betrayal of the hard working drivers needs to gain wider coverage.

“Unite is keen to negotiate a fair and just settlement – but ESL seems intent on macho posturing rather than genuine negotiations.”

Officials have been seeking a settlement of the immediate dispute with Eddie Stobart managers, but they also suspect Tesco of transferring the drivers to the new company when they knew ESL would not guarantee their continuing employment.

In August, the transport workforce was transferred from the supermarket giant. ESL then issued redundancy notices, with no promise that the drivers will be re-employed after the statutory 90-days consultation.

Unite believes that there is no need for Stobart’s to get rid of these drivers and does not believe that the firm has the capacity in its existing network to properly service the Tesco distribution centre at Doncaster.

The drivers believe Stobarts would have to recruit new staff on worse terms and conditions to run the operation, once it has sacked the current workforce.

The drivers took two days of strike action earlier this month.

You can hear more on the dispute in current edition of The Active Voice podcast here.

UnionNews will be reporting from the Doncaster picket line later today.

Follow us on Twitter @UnionNewsUK for updates.


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