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Striking drivers block Tesco Distribution Centre

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

5 days into an all out strike by Tesco drivers operating out of the Doncaster Distribution Centre I was finally able to visit the picket lines and bring solidarity and support from those members of Usdaw who want to see a fighting union which stands up to Tesco and other bullying employers like the drivers are doing.

A Yorkshire Usdaw member

As the Activist and the Socialist newspaper have reported, this follows earlier strike days by the drivers who have been outsourced to Eddie Stobarts Ltd who now want to effectively sack them, only offering them jobs elsewhere in country on over £2 less an hour than they currently recieve. This agressive, race-to-the-bottom move will come as no suprise, especially USDAW members in Tesco stores, who have seen Tesco this year unilaterally ignore the so-called partnership agreement to impose increased retirement ages and changes to bonuses.

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

As it happened I picked a particularly interesting day to be there. Following a demonstration on Saturday through the town where afterwards strikers had blocked one of the entrances for around 45 minutes, they decided to up the ante and moved en masse into the both the entrance and exit from the depot, refusing to let lorries pass through. The result was perhaps 100 lorries parked up almost anywhere nearby possible whilst the police were called to try a negotiate getting some of them into the depot.

As the lorries came past we saw contracters coming in 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. The strikers attempted to discuss with all the drivers, managing to turn some succesfully away, whilst others were less friendly with one even hitting a picket. Some were even so hasty they went into the depot the wrong way, causing even further delays as they tried to manouvere themselves out of the way.

Police eventually turned up in numbers to make the pickets move to let lorries into the depot

Police eventually turned up in numbers to make the pickets move to let lorries into the depot

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. What a shame that Usdaws leadership, instead of taking effective action like this, instead seek negotiations that get nowhere and instead sell our terms and conditions down the river. Usdaw members in Tesco distribution, whether drivers or warehouse staff, should particular be asking such questions given the anger at this years ADM over this issue (see report in Activist 33).

As a member of Usdaw, I also asked what could be done to help build links between the drivers and Usdaw members working for Tesco, especially in stores. The drivers have received a number of solidarity messages from Usdaw reps that they are grateful for, but are especially keen for other Usdaw members in the area to come and join them picketing. The strikers are also drafting an appeal to Tesco store workers which the Activist will hopefully be able to publish soon.

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