Milk distribution to supermarkets could be disrupted in the north of England over the Easter holiday, if the pay and conditions of a group of drivers is not protected by their new employer.
The 100 drivers are on the brink of taking strike action and/or industrial action short of strike, after Arla Foods, a dairy company based in Leeds, decided to TUPE transfer the drivers to Moran Logistics, also in Leeds.
Unite and the GMB condemned Arla’s refusal to supply financial information justifying the transfer, as well as Moran Logistics’ refusal to recognise the two unions for collective bargaining purposes on behalf of the drivers.
The drivers are set to be transferred on Sunday (March 8) and the two unions intend to serve notice of strike action or industrial action short of a strike the following day (March 9).
Unite national officer for road transport Matt Draper said if the drivers’ new employer didn’t get around the negotiating table, disruption of milk supplies in the region could be extensive and affect such major retailers as Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Morrisons.
Draper argued that the drivers, who’d provided years and years of loyal service, were being “dumped by Arla.”
“The company has repeatedly refused to share with the two unions the financial information to support its decision,” he said.
“The continued refusal to supply this data endorses the joint unions’ belief that pay and conditions will be attacked once the transfer has been completed.
“Moran Logistics refusal to recognise the unions strengthens this view further,” he added.
Draper condemned the behaviour of both companies involved, saying that they have “treated their workers with utter contempt.”
GMB regional officer Rachel Dix said that after Arla’s refusal to release key financial information about savings generated by the transfer, they could only conclude that pay and jobs would be on the line.
Stay tuned on UNITElive for the latest on the dispute.