Tesco drivers fight on

Alistair Tice

One year after being unfairly sacked, 183 ex-Tesco drivers will march again in Doncaster on Saturday 16 November.

The demonstration is to expose how Stobart Group, the haulage firm that Tesco out-sourced the drivers’ work to, tore up the Tupe (Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment) regulations and made the drivers redundant within four months of transfer.

Tupe is supposed to protect workers’ jobs and terms and conditions when they are transferred from one employer to another, but increasingly employers like “Scumbarts” are getting round them and the Con-Dem government wants to water down the regulations even further.

Last autumn, the drivers, all Unite members, waged an inspiring campaign involving 15 days of strike action, leafleting Tesco stores, and a mass picket and blockade (including a tank!) of the Doncaster Tesco distribution centre that lasted three days and two nights.

While not winning their jobs back, it was this militant action that forced the bosses to double the redundancy pay. But the workers have not just left it at that. Unite is currently pursuing a legal challenge against Stobart over the unfair dismissal of the drivers and for a protective award for lack of proper consultation during the Tupe process. The hearing is scheduled for February 2014.

Trevor Cheetham, the Unite senior shop steward during last year’s strike said: “If we don’t win this, then Tupe might as well stand for “Tory Union-busting, Persecution of Employees”!

Saturday’s demonstration will start at 11am from Doncaster Rovers car park which is near the distribution centre, march through Doncaster town centre and back for a rally. Other workers recently privatised, such as prison officers at Doncaster prisons and Royal Mail have been invited to support.