Tesco drivers successfully blockade Doncaster distribution centre

Alistair Tice
Striking Tesco drivers on the picket line , photo A Tice

Striking Tesco drivers on the picket line , photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

With confidence high after Saturday’s march and picket, Doncaster Tesco drivers upped the anti on Monday 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.

Striking Tesco drivers bring a tank to the picket line with a Unite banner attached

Striking Tesco drivers bring a tank to the picket line with a Unite banner attached   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

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 £1,215 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 successfully turn some away, whilst others were less friendly, with one even hitting a picket.

Some were so hasty they went into the depot the wrong way, causing even further delays as they tried to manoeuvre 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 four hours later a text from the Unite branch chair said: “We are still here, lorries all over out here”.

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 it’s 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!

  • 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”

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 11 December 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.