With confidence high after Saturday’s march and picket, Doncaster Tesco drivers upped the anti today in their dispute with Tesco/Stobarts. At around 10-30am, strikers split into two pickets and blockaded both gates to the distribution depot stopping lorries from coming in or out. Waggons were told “Shut today” and waved on to stack up on the roads around the industrial estate.
It took the police around an hour to arrive and during another hour of negotiations nothing moved in or out. Drivers said that for every hour lost getting in, it would take ten hours to catch up in the warehouse!
This action will have hit Tesco hard. Reports from workers in the warehouse coming off shift at 2pm spoke of hardly having any pallets left in the warehouse. We saw contractors coming from as far away as Evesham, nailing the lie that Tesco and Stobarts have been spinning that the drivers were surplus to requirements, indeed Tesco and/or Stobarts must be spending a fortune on the dispute to break the union. They are even block booking rooms at Doncaster Premier Inns at a cost of £1215 a night for 15 scab drivers.
Eventually, on threat of arrest, pickets reluctantly allowed a few lorries out and then some scabs forced their way through. The strikers attempted to discuss with all the drivers, managing to turn some successfully away, whilst others were less friendly with one even hitting a picket. Some were even so hasty they went into the depot the wrong way, causing even further delays as they tried to manouvre themselves out of the way. But with maybe 100 lorries stacked up, and each one stopped by pickets to speak to the drivers, it took hours for the deliveries to get in.
I left the picket at 3-30pm and 4 hours later a text from the Unite branch chair says “We are still here, lorries all over out here, its fun, lol”.
Earlier I overheard a policeman say “It’s not like the miners’ strike.” Well some of the strikers are ex-miners and some are ex-army and its getting more like the miners’ strike and more like a war, a class war! As one driver said on Saturday “Why should things function so that the little people carry on getting shafted by Big Businesses like Tesco.” Well today a lot of little people stopped Tesco functioning!