co-op lorry

The Co-operative Group and Unite have reached agreement over the retailer’s plans to outsource transport operations to haulier Eddie Stobart.

Unite says it will continue to suspend its threatened strike and work to rule until it has balloted its members but will be recommending the agreement.

Andy Perry, director of logistics at The Co-op Group, welcomed the result after two days of talks at ACAS.

“We are very pleased with the progress that has been made following talks and await the outcome of Unite’s ballot to its members about the new proposals,” he said.

“We have reiterated that we have no plans to outsource any other part of our network and have tabled assurances regarding protecting terms and conditions.”

Unite said revised proposals included improvements for employees at the The Co-op’s national distribution depot at Coventry and longer-term assurances across the retailer’s wider network.

“We are now confident that our members have a secure future with The Co-op and that our concerns about the future of in-house transport have been fully addressed,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones.

“Our members have been given a firm commitment for their future in line with the business’s five-year plan. Our members at the Coventry NDC who will be transferring to Eddie Stobart have been given extra assurances that give them some confidence for their own futures outside of The Co-op.”

The Co-op wants to transfer 87 of its drivers from its Coventry depot to Eddie Stobart. It said its current transport model involved some vehicles running empty, incurring a significant cost. 

Originally its proposals involved 87 drivers at Coventry and 44 at its Castlewood depot in Derbyshire. It always maintained there were no plans for any further outsourcing.

Unite balloted 700 of its Co-op drivers and received an overwhelming vote in support of strike action. Its proposal, now suspended, was for a two-day strike yesterday and today, and an ongoing work to rule.