Unite members waved union placards on the picket line saying ‘Tesco – every sacking helps’ as 186 Tesco drivers in Doncaster started a three day strike on Wednesday 31st October against job losses and wage cuts.
Tesco, not content with £3.8 billion profit last year, transferred their Doncaster transport workforce in August to Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) to cut costs. Then ESL, who’s own drivers are on £2-50 an hour less than the Tesco drivers, on 5 September issued notice of termination of employment, with no promise that the drivers will be re-employed once the 90-days are up.
Clearly there has been a deal done between Tescos and ESL to tear up TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) which is supposed to protect the terms and conditions of transferred workers. What a way to treat a loyal workforce most of whom have over 20 years service in the job? The dole for Christmas!
ESL claim that they have spare capacity in their network to collect and drop trailers at the Doncaster depot so don’t need the Tesco drivers. This was exposed as a lie in the first 2 day strike a fortnight ago – ESL had to hire a scab firm, Taylors from Mansfield, to move most of the distribution.
As well as mounting strong picket lines at the depot, the drivers have taken their campaign to shoppers at Tesco stores in Doncaster and beyond. On Wednesday, 30 drivers took their protest to the Tesco Express store near the Houses of Parliament, to raise the profile of the dispute with MPs (including Doncaster North MP Ed Milliband) who have offices at Portcullis House.
Unite drivers’ branch secretary Dave Beck told The Socialist “I’ve done this job for 23 years. On 4 August I started my shift at 8pm as a Tesco driver and finished in the early hours as an ESL driver. Stobarts are now my fourth employer. We’re not striking for more money, just to keep our jobs and terms and conditions. The resolve of the drivers is absolutely steadfast.”
NSSN supporters also took part in the Westminster protest of Striking Doncaster workers yesterday. We interviewed a rep who argued the cuts were not necessary and TUPE was being used to make wage cuts and more. With a profit making company like TESCO, who use the delivery firm, no cuts were necessary. He also agreed on the need to call for a general strike due to all the cuts being made. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWK1UswKfVM&list=UUrWPWd_plbffPA9J5KxJYxQ&index=1&feature=plcp)
There will be a number of protests at Tescos on Sat 3rd Nov. “Our members at Doncaster have not taken this lying down and have already taken two days strike and more importantly demonstrated outside of Tesco stores. We now need assistance from shop stewards throughout the country to do the same outside their local Tesco. Our members are on strike again next week and will be demonstrating in Yorkshire and London. We need co-ordinated assistance for the following weekend Saturday, 3 November. The proposed timing is between 11.00 and 15.00.
We need shop stewards committees to identify their local store where they can demonstrate. We will then provide the placards and leaflets. For example, our shop stewards and members at Barnsley Gist have already identified their local supermarket and will be picking up their leaflets and placards from Leeds office. If you can assist by organising outside your local store please send me an email with the following information:
•put Tesco Doncaster as the subject of your email
•identify the store
•identify which shop stewards committee is involved and how many you expect to be with you
•include your mobile number
Paul Davies (Unite Logistics Sector National Organiser)