Milk supplies to supermarkets in the north of England will be disrupted over the Easter holiday, as a group of 100 drivers stage a 72-hour strike from Wednesday 1 April in a holiday pay and pension benefits dispute.
Unite, the country’s largest union, says that the complex dispute stems from the decision of dairy company Arla Foods, based in Leeds, to TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) the drivers earlier this month to Moran Logistics, also based in Leeds.
However, even though Moran Logistics is now the employer, Unite argues Arla Foods is ‘shortchanging and not honouring agreements’ with the drivers over outstanding holiday pay and pension benefits which, depending on the individual, could amount to several thousands of pounds.
It is these issues that will prompt the three days of strike action from 00.01 on Wednesday 1 April that will hit milk supplies to Aldi, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco across the north of England. Unite members voted by 91 per cent for strike action and 90 per cent for industrial action short of a strike. The GMB union is also involved in this dispute.
Unite national officer for road transport Matt Draper said: “This dispute is quite complex. Arla Foods transferred the drivers to Moran Logistics without settling the holiday pay and pension benefits issues that could amount to several thousands of pounds, depending on the individual driver. So even though the outstanding issues are with Arla Foods, because the new employer is Moran Logistics the strike action is directed towards this company. Arla foods is shortchanging and not honouring commitments to our members.”
“Ironically, we have had productive talks with Moran Logistics about achieving union recognition for the drivers and talks continue to achieve a potentially favourable outcome. “
“Arla Foods could settle the holiday and pension issues very quickly, if it wanted to and so avoid milk supplies over the Easter holiday being severely disrupted with anticipated shortages in the supermarkets throughout the north of England. The ball is very much in Arla’s court, and Unite and the GMB are ready for constructive talks at any time.”
Unite has already criticised Arla Foods for ‘dumping’ the drivers, with over 1,000 years of loyal service, and refusing to share with the two unions the financial information to support its decision to transfer the drivers.