ANGRY Tesco drivers are gearing up for a 72-hour stoppage strike after they claim new employer Stobart’s “walked away” from talks.
A meeting was held on Friday between Stobart’s and Unite union but members left disappointed with the offer made. Further negotiations were expected this week to no avail.
And now it has been agreed that all 180 drivers will strike for three days solid next week starting on Wednesday in a move that has left Stobart’s “baffled and bewildered”.
Unite regional officer, Harriet Eisner said that Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) had promised a new offer, but walked away from the talks when it heard about the possibility of strike action.
She said: “Stobart’s had a real opportunity to settle this damaging dispute which is hitting its client, Tesco, by coming forward with a fair offer. But they threw their toys out of the pram in a fit of pique.
“Unite is keen to negotiate a fair and just settlement – but ESL has shown a lack of seriousness in trying to settle this dispute,” she said.
David Pickering, ESL managing director, said: “We are not just disappointed by Unite’s strategy during these consultations, but are also baffled by their whole approach and feel the drivers are really losing out. Just ten minutes after Unite agreed a meeting date to discuss an improved offer, we received final notification of further industrial action.
“We were also very surprised and bewildered by Unite’s request to conduct negotiations over the telephone, which we believe is wholly inappropriate when there is so much at stake here for the affected drivers.
“It is our belief that these consultations and negotiations should be structured and held in person, to achieve the best possible outcome for the drivers,” said Mr Pickering.