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Posted on 10 November 2012 at 16:14 GMT

Doncaster Tesco drivers on strike, 9th November 2012, photo A Tice

Doncaster Tesco/Stobarts drivers on strike, 9th November 2012, photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Doncaster drivers go to war with Tesco

Alistair Tice

I've never been on a picket line like it! An armoured personnel carrier and a farmer's muckspreader blocked the gates to Doncaster Tesco's depot. Around 150 drivers, members of Unite the union, and their families joined the blockade for photographs as police stopped the traffic and scab deliveries!

All were in high spirits as this 'stunt' ended another solid three-day strike by former Tesco drivers who have been outsourced to Eddie Stobarts (forever now to be known as "Scumbarts") and face the sack by Christmas.

The greedy Tesco bosses, not content with £3.8 billion profit last year, transferred the 186 drivers to Stobarts (ESL) in August and by September ESL had given 90 days notice of redundancy.

Tesco drivers' strike, Doncaster, 9.11.12, photo by A Tice

Tesco drivers' strike, Doncaster, 9.11.12, photo by A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Stobarts drivers who are not in a trade union are on £2-50 an hour less than the Tesco drivers.

Stobarts says it doesn't need the Tesco drivers because of spare capacity in its network. That's clearly not true as on strike days ESL has had to use scab companies and agency drivers.

One of the scab firms, Taylors of Mansfield, has caused so much damage that its been sacked! And rumour has it that the Tesco operations manager has had to be brought back in because Stobarts has made such a mess of things.

This strike must be costing Stobarts hundreds of thousands of pounds what with the scab firms, agency drivers and all the security on the gates.

And Tescos doesn't like all the bad press it's getting - every strike day a coachful of strikers pays a visit to a Tesco store or two, to leaflet the shoppers and get the local press down.

Eight days of solid strike action has forced ESL back to the negotiating table. Next week's planned four day strike has been suspended for talks on Thursday and Friday.

But if ESL comes up with another 'insulting offer' like it did last time, then the drivers are prepared to go all-out over Christmas. They feel like they have nothing to lose as they're facing the sack anyway.

Doncaster Tesco drivers on strike, 9th November 2012, photo by A Tice

Doncaster Tesco drivers on strike, 9th November 2012, photo by A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Most of these drivers have given 20-plus years to the job, now they are on their fourth employer. Many are ex-miners and ex-army. Hence the tank! They have never been on strike before but are very determined and disciplined, manning the picket lines according to their shifts.

Whilst most don't expect to win their jobs back, they do want to be treated with respect and cause Tesco and "Scumbarts" as much damage as possible in the meantime.

Please send messages of support to Unite shop steward Trevor Cheetham c/o lynncheetham@yahoo.co.uk

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 November 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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