Socialist Worker

Eddie Stobart drivers refuse to break Tesco Livingston strike

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2052

Delivering solidarity to striking Tesco drivers

Delivering solidarity to striking Tesco drivers

Tesco’s attempts to break strike action by over 100 distribution drivers was beaten last week by an inspiring show of solidarity.

Drivers from the Eddie Stobart haulage company refused extra payments of £500 to cover the strikers’ work.

Tesco distribution drivers based in Livingston, near Edinburgh, were set to strike for three days from Thursday of this week.

The strike could shut down supplies to nearly 100 Tesco stores across Scotland on the eve on the Spring bank holiday.

Workers for Eddie Stobart reported that they were offered £500 on top of their normal wages, plus food, drink and accommodation in a top hotel, if they covered the work of the strikers.

One worker at Eddie Stobart’s headquarters in Carlisle said, “I know of at least 11 people who were offered an incentive bonus to go and work for Tesco during the strike. They all agreed but they were not told they would be strike-breaking.

“When union reps contacted them, they all agreed to drop out in support of the Livingston drivers. They are giving absolute assurance that they will not cross that picket line.”

The Tesco drivers, members of the Unite union formed by the merger of the T&G and Amicus unions, voted by 126 to six for strike action after Tesco demanded they accept serious changes in terms and conditions.

Tesco also wants to derecognise the union when its depot moves 500 yards down the road. Unite says that the changes will mean losses of more than £3,000 a year for many of the drivers.

The Tesco drivers were heartened to hear of the solidarity from the Eddie Stobart workers.

Tony Trench, a T&G officer in Edinburgh, said, “We are humbly grateful to these guys who have turned down such large sums of money to support their comrades.”

Ron Webb, the national transport secretary of Unite’s T&G section, said, “This was an attempt to break a lawful and wholly justified strike with grubby money and bully boy tactics. It is days like this when we can lift our heads high and be proud to be trade unionists.”

There are around 5,000 distribution drivers working for Tesco. Because of the nature of “just-in-time” stock systems, they have huge power to bring the supermarket chain to a standstill.

Tesco is the largest supermarket in Britain and last month announced record annual profits of £2.7 billion.

Stewards of Tesco drivers across Britain have pledged support for the Livingston drivers and launched a national campaign over pay, terms and conditions.

There are also calls from shop stewards for a national strike ballot of drivers across Tesco’s depots.

“Our shop stewards see the attack on the Scottish drivers as the first shot in a national attack by the company,” said Ron Webb.

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Tue 22 May 2007, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2052
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