On the first day of Christmas, Tesco gave to me …..THE SACK!” That was the message delivered by Doncaster Tesco drivers on Saturday to customers urging them not to shop at the biggest Tesco store in town. “On the dole for Christmas” is the “present” facing 180 Unite members, recently outsourced by Tesco to Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) who now want to sack them all. Stobarts “offer” of other job opportunites are anywhere in the country on at least £2-50 an hour less, an insult to professional drivers, many of whom have worked from the Doncaster depot for over 20 years.
The public were warned “Check the sell-by date, cos deliveries are running late” as protesters packed the store car-park and crowded out the shop entrance. The store manager gave out free mince pies but its jobs that the strikers are fighting for.
Around 250 drivers, families and supporters gathered round and on the now famous tank parked outside the depot gates before marching into the town centre and onto the Church View store. After 8 days of discontinuous strike action, the workers started an indefinite strike on Thursday December 6th.
Back at the depot, Unite national officer Adrian Jones gave the strikers the full backing of the national union, and said that they should up the anti. Then returning to the picket, after one strike supporter, a Socialist Party member, held up two delivery wagons, strikers were emboldened to block the depot gates, blocking the road and holding up 12 to 15 lorries for around 45 minutes before the police arrived.
The police asked pickets to move saying “You’ve made your point, but things have got to function.” To which one of the drivers retorted “Why does it have to function? So little people can carry on being shafted by Big Businesses like Tescos!”
This action fired up the pickets who have been frustrated by Stobarts hiring agencies and scabs to keep deliveries going, giving the lie to ESL’s claim that the Doncaster drivers are not needed. Workload doubles in the run up to Xmas so the strikers are confident that Tesco/Stobarts will be forced to improve their offer because otherwise they won’t be able to meet their delivery orders.
Please send messages of support to Trevor Cheetham c/o [email protected] and donations to Dave Beck, 6 Wildene Drive, Mexborough, South Yorkshire, S64 9SN made out to “8-9/490 branch, TGWU, Tesco Contract Doncaster”