Members asked if they are prepared to accept new offer after unfair dismissal

Eddie StobartFormer drivers, who used to work on the Tesco distribution contract in Doncaster, are on the verge of a historic victory in their fight against their unfair dismissal by Eddie Stobart Ltd.

An employment tribunal hearing their case had been set to reconvene this month, but an offer significant enough to be recommended by the union has been accepted by an overwhelming majority at a meeting of the drivers.

The offer covers 184 Unite members and represents a ‘resounding success’ and ‘vindication’ for their two year fight.

Individual members will now be asked over the coming days if they accept the offer while legal requirements are finalised.

The drivers, who were dismissed nearly two years ago, argued that ESL and Tesco had agreed to make them redundant well before the workers had been consulted.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “If this offer is accepted by individual members, as Unite expects, it will be a resounding success for those members who were unfairly dismissed.

“The offer is testament to the determination of the drivers to get justice and the brave leadership of the convenor, Trevor Cheetham and the branch committee. Special thanks should also go to the support of local MPs especially John Healey and Rosie Winterton.”

Howard Beckett, Unite director of legal, membership and affiliated services, added: “This victory should put employers considering to side step the law on notice that Unite will not shrink from using every legal means to defend its members’ interests.

“The resolution of this complex case once again demonstrates that without effective trade unions, workers cannot fight back against injustices at work and win. I would like to thank Neil Todd and Thompsons Solicitors who have again shown that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the trade union movement.”

The origins of the dispute go back to August 2012 when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to ESL and then in September of that year, ESL issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers would be re-employed once the 90-days were up.

This sparked a four month dispute. Eventually the drivers voted to accept a package from ESL which meant that they finished work in January 2013.

A number of the former Tesco drivers are still working in the industry either as self-employed drivers or for agencies – however, a good proportion remain unemployed.

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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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