Doomed staff fear losing redundancy

NDET 26-2-13 MC 2'Tesco distribution centre
NDET 26-2-13 MC 2'Tesco distribution centre

Under-fire staff at the doomed Barlborough Tesco Distribution Centre have allegedly been threatened with losing redundancy packages if they leave to take new jobs in the next six weeks.

The centre, on Gander Lane, Barlborough, is closing in September with the loss of about 400 jobs but some have lined up work elsewhere and hoped to leave in days or weeks to secure their futures.

But centre manager Kathy Cooke allegedly told remaining staff via a poster at the centre that Tesco would not authorise early-leavers with redundancy packages within the next six weeks due to a rush of work.

One employee, who would not be named, said: “If we find a job we can’t leave and take it because we can’t afford to lose redundancy packages but we can’t afford to lose the opportunity of a new job.

“Tesco’s distribution centre in Reading which was set to take our work is struggling so work is being sent back to us. Some have got new jobs and were to start next week but Tesco wouldn’t release them and no one could leave.”

Tesco announced the centre’s pending closure in February - affecting about 400 staff - as part of a restructuring of its UK distribution system with centre closures and a transfer option with 2,000 new jobs at Reading and Dagenham sites.

The supermarket giant argued it opted to close Barlborough so it could hold its slower-moving grocery products in one depot, improve delivery frequencies, reduce road miles and carbon emissions while better serving its grocery network from other centres.

After the Derbyshire Times contacted Tesco and staff union USDAW, the newspaper learned the staff notice regarding redundancies had been taken down. An USDAW spokesman claimed the issue had been resolved by Tuesday however some staff have not felt reassured after claims employees still cannot arrange new start dates with new employers without the Barlborough centre manager’s agreement. Tesco stated it was committed to helping staff find new jobs and had allowed people to leave early at the discretion of the manager but it has since had to balance this with the store being able to operate during a peak season, however it is still considering departure applications.