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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Stobart query strike plans by Irish union

Transport giant Stobart is to ballot staff in Ireland after questioning a proposed strike by a union tomorrow.

The company – the Irish branch of Stobart Group, parent to Eddie Stobart logistics company – is the main distributor for Tesco supermarkets in Ireland.

Bosses fear a planned stoppage by some of its 122 drivers would potentially cause a major disruption to the retailer’s supply chain.

Stobart questioned a trade union announcement by the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) on Friday that staff planned to take industrial action over the transport company’s supposed refusal to discuss grievances over excessive working hours and health and safety issues.

Stobart claimed it received strong feedback from drivers that they do not wish to strike while other drivers have said they are not aware of the industrial action. It now plans to ballot all staff with proceedings to be overseen by a retired Assistant Garda Commissioner.

“We have spoken with as many drivers as possible over the past 48 hours and it is becoming increasingly clear that full support for SIPTU’s decision to strike does not exist,” a spokesperson for Stobart Ireland said.

“Many drivers have contacted us to say they were unaware of the SIPTU decision in the first place. Others have told us they want nothing to do with strike action. It is clear that drivers are confused and concerned.”

In a statement on Friday, SIPTU sector organiser Karan O’Loughlin, said the drivers would strike on Thursday to highlight their concerns although she did not expand on the specifics of the grievances.

“Eddie Stobart could solve its industrial relations problems by just listening to its drivers and doing something about the health and safety concerns they are raising,” she said.

“What the company don’t get is that their drivers have no alternative but to stop work in order to highlight their grievances. They are driving the length and breadth of the country and are tired from excessive working. They know this can’t continue and so should Eddie Stobart.”

Stobart Ireland said it would undertake a secret and independent ballot at its facility in Ballymun in Dublin with Martin Donnellan, a retired Assistant Garda Commissioner, overseeing proceedings.

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