THERE appears to be a rift within the 175 drivers currently employed by Avantas group who are transferring to a new freight company employer, CEVA Logistics about the move.
That seems to be the picture following last week’s consultations between Unite the Union, CEVA and Avantas.
Unite’s regional officer, Sean Smyth, claimed the talks had gone, ‘the way they were expected’, ie positively.
He did concede that ‘some people’ were ‘very annoyed’ about the transfer. But, he insisted that ‘150-plus’ of the drivers approved the transfer.
“There are men joining the union every day, and the only thing we can do is to ensure that the transfer is not to their detriment and that their terms and conditions are honoured.”
Asked about the discontent, he told the Herald: “I don’t know who this is coming from, but you get all this speculation. Last week, there was supposed to be a £500m-plus offer to buy out the company (Avantas).
“The current employing firm (Avantas) confirmed there is a contract agreed with the new employers, CEVA.
“And, CEVA confirmed their intent to treat Unite members with respect and dignity and to honour their TUPE (transfer) obligations.”
However, one driver, who requested anonymity, and said he is a Unite member, claimed that 90 per cent of the drivers were unhappy with the transfer proposal.
“There are no two ways about it”, he said. “I can guarantee we could get a meeting (of the drivers), and you can come to it and I will guarantee there is 90 per cent of the drivers are unhappy.”
He went on: “The Unite man keeps saying we have to go down the legal route, but he goes to a meeting with Avantas and CEVA, and they will tell him nothing is going to change.
“But, you have to understand we have drivers who have been with the company 35-40 years, men in their 50s and 60s and, under CEVA, they will have to stay overnight, away from home, something they have never done before.”
The man claimed that there was a wider picture and all CEVA were interested in was having a local base in Fermanagh.
“They took a group of drivers across to England and, when the men returned, there wasn’t one positive note. They said CEVA didn’t seem to know anything about haulage in Ireland, that they don’t seem to care.”
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