The Group’s board has announced that some drivers will be transferred to Eddie Stobart and 85 staff at the Coventry national distribution centre were told they could be moved to the private haulier in April. The Group currently operates around 3,000 vehicles and trailers from 13 distribution centres. A spokesman for the Group said: “We are still in the early stages of consultation, but all staff will be offered roles with the new employers under TUPE regulations, which has the potential to involve 85 drivers.”
Unite, the trade union representing the workers, added: “The Co-op Group has been through some difficult times recently during which Unite was extremely supportive. We are, therefore, very disappointed by this announcement”.
Driver suggests: form an independent workers co-op
A comment from one driver was published in the Co-operative News: “It’s a shame the Co-op Group so often doesn’t seem to ‘get’ the wider co-operative movement. This could be a wonderful opportunity to help the drivers set up an independent workers co-op. With a bit of funding in place of redundancy payouts I’m sure it could be done. Instead they just outsource to a non-democratic company”.
“We are all very dismayed as to the way the company has gone about this entire situation. Most of us work for the coop for the ethical company status that they claim to have. We feel that in the last couple of years the coop seems to be losing its way putting profit before members and loyal staff. The other drivers and I don’t want to work for anyone else and feel if the company just gave us a chance to put things in place so that we could improve drastically and make more savings than the company involved in the 3rd Party takeover ever could.
“Apparently it’s all about empty running of trailers. If planning from above was done better then we would not be empty running in the first place. We used to run around and collect from several locations and in the last 2 years this has been systematically reduced for reasons unbeknown to us, to practically nothing”. Unite asks for more time to investigate the viability of the comprehensive list of suggestions put forward by shop stewards at Coventry to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Thinking that all were at risk of future outsourcing, it will hold a consultative ballot of its 1,000 Co-op driver members who are based at Birtley, Newcastle, Coventry, Plymouth, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, Castlewood, north Derbyshire, Newhouse, Lanarkshire and Thurrock in Essex.
Is the company going to employ agency drivers to do exactly the same jobs as they did, but on worse terms and conditions?
Unite national officer Adrian Jones reports that his members as saying that there was no need for Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) to have made them redundant at the beginning of 2013 – as the company is employing agency drivers to do exactly the same jobs as they did, but on worse terms and conditions.
Eddie Stobart “has proved to be ruthless in its treatment of such workers, as its behaviour at Doncaster proves only too clearly . . . Adrian Jones added: “Eddie Stobart’s approach to industrial relations compared to the ethos of the co-operative movement is like ‘chalk-and-cheese’. He ended:
“The management has declined to give us that opportunity, which is a great shame given the long-standing ethical values of the Co-op.”