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Eddie Stobart/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Industrial Relations

Siptu lodges complaint over Stobart ballot

The trade union has accused the drivers services group of coercing employees to participate in a “hastily arranged ballot”.

SIPTU HAS LODGED a complaint with the Health and Safety Authority, accusing Stobart Ireland Drivers Services of coercing its workers to participate in a hastily arranged ballot yesterday.

After deciding to run its own ballot of staff, the transport company claims that 45 of the 58 drivers balloted do not support planned industrial actions by trade union members.

Siptu has organised a work-stop to take place on Thursday to highlight grievances with working hours and other health and safety concerns.

If the firm’s 122 drivers participate, it could prove difficult for Stobart’s customers. The British-based company is the main distributor for Tesco Ireland so the strike could cause major disruption to its supply chain.

The trade union says that the number of those balloted by the company yesterday represents less than half of the 122 drivers working for Stobart.

According to Siptu, 63 per cent of drivers support the 24-hour strike over the alleged refusal of the company to deal with roster and fatigue issues.

Sector organiser Karan O’Loughlin has told the HSA that the company contacted drivers to instruct them to return to work when they finished their shifts to vote in the ballot.

She said this disturbed the drivers’ necessary rest periods. “Despite a week long campaign of intimidation which included threats of dismissal and lay off the majority of drivers decided to stay away from the vote,” she added.

If as much energy was spent by Stobart management on engaging with the problems of fatigue experienced by these drivers this action on Thursday would not be necessary. It is clear that the majority of drivers want the company to hold discussions with them in order resolve the problems.

O’Loughlin also called on Tesco – the company’s biggest customer – to comment on Stobart’s treatment of its drivers.

Stobart Ireland said its ballot was secret, independent and overseen by retired Assistant Garda Commissioner Martin Donnellan. It decided to organised the ballot after questioning the validity of Siptu’s decision to strike, stating it had received strong feedback from employees who did not want to be involved. Others said they were not even aware of the industrial action, according to Stobart.

More: Stobart questions SIPTU organised strike action and plans to ballot staff>

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