Below we publish an article sent to us by a driver at the Sainsbury depot (operated by Wincanton) in Sherburn-in-Elmet. It details why 150 drivers have joined Unite after demanding that Usdaw led a fight to improve conditions on site, but instead had several reps removed by Usdaw. This is also comes in the aftermath of the inspiring dispute against Tesco & Eddie Stobart in Doncaster, where Unite members forced some concessions out of the companies after being made redundant.

Members of USDAW at the Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Sherburn-in-Elmet, Leeds (operated by Wincanton), have rebelled by defecting to another union – Unite.

In less than four weeks, over 150 union members in the transport department (HGV Drivers etc.) have freely and without any influence from Unite, chosen to cancel their membership with USDAW and transfer to Unite.

Following a number of recent incidents whereby USDAW ignored member concerns which included an 80-signature vote of no confidence in USDAW. Concerns also included ballot fixing allegations, union reps being removed for spurious reasons, and a union rep being appointed without a ballot.

The situation has also been exacerbated by USDAW members and former members receiving threatening letters from USDAW.

This has left USDAW with a minority membership and Unite with a majority membership in the Transport Department.

USDAW is the recognised union at the huge Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Sherburn-in Elmet, Leeds. They were given recognition voluntarily almost five years ago when the site opened. In return for recognition, USDAW agreed to opt-out of the road transport 10-hour night work limit for drivers, which has resulted in HGV Drivers working excessively long hours on nights. USDAW also signed away the right to strike for all workers at Sherburn.

The new Unite members at Sainsbury’s DC Sherburn, are committed to the cause, they will continue to campaign for recognition so that they may negotiate on their terms and conditions and pay. Usdaw has turned it’s back on it’s members at Sherburn, they ignored their members concerns and complaints.

Usdaw have sold their members down the river giving away the right to strike in return for recognition, this before the site opened 5 years ago. Usdaw also gave away the drivers right to choose whether to opt in or opt out of the Road Transport Directive 10 hour night work limit.

The TUC’s ‘Bridlington Agreement’ prevents one union from poaching members from another union, but that was not the case on this occasion, the majority of workers chose themselves to join Unite the Union online at home.

In response to this situation Usdaw have now turned to the company for help, they have produced joint statements with the company threatening their members and former members stating that the company will not recognise any other union other than Usdaw. Are these the actions of a union that puts it’s members first, or are they the actions of a collaborationist, sell-out union?