Co-op drivers balloted for strike action

The Co-Operative Food depot in Newhouse
The Co-Operative Food depot in Newhouse

Drivers at The Co-operative Food depot in Newhouse are being balloted for strike action.

This comes after the national board of The Co-operative Group agreed to transfer 50 drivers based at Coventry to Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) using a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE).

Unite has raised serious concerns about the proposal, having been embroiled in a long-running dispute in 2012 when Tesco used TUPE to send 184 workers to ESL.

The drivers were subsequently issued with a termination of employment notice with no prospect of re-employment.

Co-op says it has no plans to outsource either the other areas of transport operated by the Co-op or any of its warehouse functions, Unite claimed members did not believe these ‘assurances’.

Unite national officer for retail distribution Adrian Jones said: “Basically we have heard it all before and while it may be copper bottomed, it is not cast iron.

“Our members are not yet convinced that this will not happen again. The other aspect is that the TUPE to Eddie Stobart is not consistent with the values and principles of the Co-op.

“Our members want to stay with the Co-op and our members nationally are intent on supporting their colleagues in Coventry.”

Around 700 drivers at seven sites across the UK, including Newhouse, will receive their ballot papers on Tuesday (March 1) and have until March 16 to respond.

Mr Jones added: “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.”