GMB and Unite members vote for action in dispute over holiday pay and pension benefits

Milk supplies to supermarkets in the north of England will be disrupted over the Easter holiday, as a group of 100 drivers next week stage a 72-hour strike in a holiday pay and pension benefits dispute.

The complex dispute stems from the decision earlier this month of Leeds-based dairy company Arla Foods to TUPE the GMB and Unite members to Moran Logistics, also based in Leeds.

However, even though Moran Logistics is now the employer, the unions argue Arla Foods is ‘shortchanging and not honouring agreements’ with the drivers over outstanding holiday pay and pension benefits which, depending on the individual, could amount to several thousands of pounds.

It is these issues that will prompt the three days of strike action from midnight next Wednesday that will hit milk supplies to Aldi, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco across the north of England. GMB members voted by 85% to strike, with Unite members voting by 91%.

Unite national officer for road transport Matt Draper said: “This dispute is quite complex. Arla Foods transferred the drivers to Moran Logistics without settling the holiday pay and pension benefits issues that could amount to several thousands of pounds, depending on the individual driver.

“So even though the outstanding issues are with Arla Foods, because the new employer is Moran Logistics the strike action is directed towards this company. Arla foods is shortchanging and not honouring commitments to our members.

“Ironically, we have had productive talks with Moran Logistics about achieving union recognition for the drivers and talks continue to achieve a potentially favourable outcome.

“Arla Foods could settle the holiday and pension issues very quickly, if it wanted to and so avoid milk supplies over the Easter holiday being severely disrupted with anticipated shortages in the supermarkets throughout the north of England.

“The ball is very much in Arla’s court, and Unite and the GMB are ready for constructive talks at any time.”

GMB regional officer Rachel Dix said: “Whilst there has been considerable progress to resolve a number of the outstanding issues with the new employer Moran Logistics Arla, the previous employer, are viewed as the key obstacle to remedying problems that occurred under their employment regarding a shortfall in holiday pay and pension benefits.

“The joint trade unions met with Moran Logistics last week and our talks were productive. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon and that as a consequence, we can work constructively with the new company under new bargaining arrangements.

“The fly in the ointment however is Arla. Our members feel like they have been short changed by their former employer over past underpayments in holiday pay and by the company not committing to past agreements that should have transferred to Moran. They are prepared to take strike action against their new employer in order to defend these rights. We had a return of 85% in favour of taking strike action which illustrates the strength of feeling amongst our members.

“Arla could sort easily sort this out and in doing so they could spare us all the severe disruption to milk supplies and anticipated shortages in supermarkets across the north of England that awaits us at Easter.”

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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