DERBYSHIRE: MPs slam Tesco director for ‘gloating’ over closures

NDET 26-2-13 MC 1'Tesco distribution centre, Barlborough
NDET 26-2-13 MC 1'Tesco distribution centre, Barlborough

Four regional MPs have slated a Tesco director after he tweeted his delight over a restructuring plan that has resulted in job losses including 400 at the company’s Barlborough distribution centre.

Tesco announced the closure of five depots including the one in Barlborough near Chesterfield as part of plans to hold its slower-moving grocery products in one depot, improve delivery frequencies, reduce road miles and better serve its grocery network from other centres.

But MPs Toby Perkins, Natascha Engel, Dennis Skinner and John Mann have criticised Tesco distribution director Steve Strachota in a letter to the firm after he tweeted, “Five depots closing, three new ones ready to go. Awesome teamwork, courageous leadership and a bit of luck. #worldclass”.

Chesterfield MP Mr Perkins, who organised the letter, said: “Many of the staff have seen this message as potentially gloating about their redundancy.”

He added: “Tesco are a Great British brand, but they let themselves down when they don’t acknowledge the impact their presence – or lack of it – has on the lives of real people living in our fragile economy.

“Some of the staff have worked for Tesco for over two decades and thought they had a job for life. They’ve now faced a double whammy of losing that job and being told by the man responsible that their fate is ‘hashtag world class’”.

The MPs, who are demanding that Mr Strachota comes to Chesterfield and apologise in person to those directly affected, were appalled by the comment which was released a month ago during a very slow economic recovery and an ongoing employment crisis that has left many Tesco staff facing unemployment.

Tesco announced its planned closures in February including Barlborough, which is due to close in September, with transfer options for 2,000 new jobs at Reading and Dagenham sites.

A Tesco spokesman said the tweet was intended to acknowledge that difficult decisions had been taken in order to make significant changes to its distribution network and the company apologised for any offence.

Under-fire staff at Barlborough have also been concerned about losing redundancy packages after Tesco had warned it could not authorise redundancy for any Barlborough employees planning to leave within a six week period.

The company stated it had to balance early departures from the centre while being able to continue operating during a peak season, but it was still willing to consider the circumstance of any early-departure applications.