Ex-Tesco drivers stage demo in Doncaster over ‘unfair dismissals’

Tesco drivers during their previous strike action.
Tesco drivers during their previous strike action.

Former drivers, who used to work on the Tesco distribution contract in Doncaster, will stage demonstrations in the town and also Goole and Widnes today to highlight their ‘unfair dismissals’.

The crux of their case is that Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) and Tesco had together agreed to make 184 drivers redundant well before the workers had been consulted. Their case is currently partly heard at an employment tribunal (ET).

The Doncaster demonstration will be held at the Tesco distribution centre at Middle Bank, starting at about 10am. There will also be leafleting of Tesco stores across the country during the day.

Unite is supporting the unfair dismissal claim on behalf of the drivers at the ET. The union is also saying that a ‘protected award’ for the drivers should follow for the companies failing to genuinely engage in consultation.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Basically, our members are saying that Tesco and Stobarts colluded to sack our members, who had fought hard for terms and conditions over many years, so that they could be replaced by cheaper drivers.

“We will be demonstrating tomorrow (Friday) to show that our members will not lie down and let Tesco and Stobarts get away with this exploitation. We want the public to know what sort of organisations they are - putting profits before people.

“Our members are seeking nothing, but justice. We want to see these employers brought to task, so that other workers do not have to suffer the same fate as the 184 drivers at Doncaster.”

The origins of the dispute go back to August 2012 when the transport workforce was transferred from Tesco to ESL and then in September, 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.