Drivers in strike threat over jobs row
MORE than 1,000 Co- op drivers across the country are to be consulted on industrial action after 50 drivers at its Coventry distribution centre were transferred to haulier Eddie Stobart.
At a meeting on Wednesday Co- op bosses told the drivers based at the Co- op’s national distribution centre on Prologis Park in Longford about the Eddie Stobart move, which will come into effect in April.
The huge 310,000 sq ft Coventry operation supplies regional Co- op distribution centres around the UK and employs almost 700 staff.
The action, from union Unite, has been prompted by concerns for the job security of the Coventry drivers and in the long term for drivers at other centres across the UK if the Co- op continues to outsource driving operations.
Speaking about Eddie Stobart move the union said it had “serious concerns” about the haulier.
As such it plans to consult Co- op drivers based at Coventry, as well as those in Birtley, Newcastle, Carrickfergus, Castlewood, Newhouse, Plymouth and Thurrock - with a view to a subsequent ballot for industrial action.
In 2012, Unite was embroiled in a long- running dispute when Tesco transferred 184 workers to Eddie Stobart.
The drivers were sub- sequently issued with termination of employment notices. Unite said many of the drivers who lost their jobs were still out of work. Unite national officer for retail distribution Adrian Jones said: “We are very opposed to this proposed transfer of Co- op drivers to Eddie Stobart.
“The Co- op has already intimated that it does not see itself as a haulier. It is our belief that with four sites already outsourced in Andover, Avonmouth, Cambridgeshire and the north west, the plans to outsource Coventry are the thin end of the wedge.”
He added: “Our members’ job security across the national transport network is being put at risk by the Co- op’s action.
“We are taking the temperature for industrial action and expect to then move to a full industrial action ballot.”
Mr Jones said the union was “very disappointed” given the fact it had been supportive of the Co- op recently when it went through “difficult times” and added: “The Co- op’s Christmas retail figures were encouraging, but we see this decision as a big retrograde step.
“All Unite is asking is that we have more time to investigate the viability of the comprehensive list of suggestions put forward by our shop stewards at Coventry to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
“But the management has declined to give us that opportunity, which is a great shame given the long- standing ethical values of the Co- op.”
A Co- op spokesman said: “We have entered into consultation with affected colleagues regarding some of our logistics operations.
“The consultation is with colleagues about the proposed changes and how they are potentially impacted.”
The Co- op’s retail warehouse at Prologis Park