With an improving economy and subsequent pressure for operators to improve pay, it's been a year of hard negotiation for many, and in some cases road transport businesses and even the DVSA have had to contend with industrial action including strikes.

Motortransport.co.uk looks back at a year of disputes.


2015 began with industrial harmony as Eddie Stobart ended its long-running dispute with 184 HGV drivers claiming unfair dismissal after the logistics giant took over the Tesco Distribution centre contract in Doncaster in 2012.

The 11th hour "without prejudice" settlement, reached just moments before the employment tribunal hearing in Sheffield, was hailed by the Unite union as "an historic victory in the fight against unfair dismissal."


As the dust slowly settled following City Link's unexpected collapse on Christmas Eve, shell shocked City Link employees began a class action against the failed parcel carrier for a larger compensation payment.

The movement quickly gathered momentum with JMW Solicitors taking up the case on behalf of 144 former City Link staff to the employment tribunal. “We are acting for 144 people and the number is going up every day.”JMW spokeswoman said


Threats of strike action by dairy drivers at Moran Logistics's Leeds depot rumbled on through March.

The dispute, which centred around holiday and pension issues, arose after the drivers were transferred to Moran from Arla Foods. Pressure intensified as Unite and GMB unions slammed Arla for “not honouring” agreements with drivers in the transfer process.


By the end of March the 100 drivers had voted for a three day strike. However a last minute "amicable agreement" between the two parties saw the action called off,just one day before it was due to take place.


UK hauliers were urged to consider their rest period practices after 21 drivers at Eddie Stobarts' Irish division were awarded a total of around £70,000 by the Irish Courts.

The drivers, backed by the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), had argued that the haulier had breached its drivers' rest period by making them call in to find out when their next shifts began.

Pragma Law solicitor Lucy Whitaker said the judgement could impact on similar cases in the UK, warning hauliers to review their rest period practices.


Industrial action by DVSA vehicle testing staff in protest at new terms and conditions under the New Generation Testing contract was narrowly averted after a meeting between trade union Prospect and the the government agency. Both parties agreed to set up a working group to "explore ideas raised - which potentially offer a way forward to resolve our difficulties."

Prospect even went so far as to say problems "were well on the way to being resolved." If only the union had possessed a crystal ball (See November).


Indesit UK drivers and warehouse staff across the country came together to vote for strike action in a ballot organised by the Unite union.

Regional officer Mark Plumb said the ballot was the result of anger among the 200 staff at two years of sub-inflation pay settlements and moves by the white goods manufacturer to lower the value of redundancy payouts.

He warned that any strike action would bring severe disruption to the delivery of thousands of white goods across the UK.


July was a cruel month for UK hauliers using the Port of Calais. Successive waves of strikes by French MyFerryLink workers in protest at its sale to DFDS, brought road blockades, burning tyres, traffic chaos, and a surge in the number of migrant attempts to board slow moving lorries trapped in long queues.

In the UK with cross channel services disrupted UK police launched the largest ever Operation Stack, which saw trucks queueing for up to 30 miles. RHA responded by calling for the French government to bring in troops to restore order at Calais, warning that hauliers' lives were at risk.


The Indesit UK dispute rumbled on through August as drivers and warehouse staff ramped up the pressure, following a ballot of 120 staff, organised by Unite, which resulted in overwhelming vote of support (93%) for strike action.

A series of escalating strikes was announced which triggered a number of "last ditch" talks. However attempts by both sides to come to an agreement over pay and changes to redundancy terms continued to falter throughout the month, with no resolution in sight by the end of August.


Strike action was avoided at logistics and freight management company Gist after management put forward a proposal to improve pay and increase staff holidays from 20 days to 26 days.


The offer, made during talks overseen by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), came just days before a scheduled strike by Gist workers. Unite hailed the offer as a significant improvement


Trade union Prospect fired a shot over the bows of DVSA early in October threatening industrial action after long running negotiations with management over the new Next Generation Testing (NGT) contracts broke down.

Prospect claimed DVSA was asking for greater staff flexibility in return for worse terms and conditions but declined to give details. However DVSA staff claim the new NGT contract could lose staff overtime payments worth £4,000-£5,000 a year as well as the London weighting - worth a further £4,000-£6,000 a year.

Indesit and Unite finally reached agreement over their dipute that had flared up in June.


Trouble erupted between DHL and trade union GMB in November. Strike action was threatened after the union accused DHL of "underhanded trickery and deception to change terms and conditions" of drivers and warehouse workers at its Banbury centre.

The accusation came after prolonged negotiations for a pay rise which saw staff reject an offer of 2.5% in a separate ballot earlier in the month.


DHL insisted the dispute is only about pay - but GMB maintained DHL intended to change work practices. As the month wore on DHL returned to the negotiating table, overseen by ACAS, with an improved pay offer of 3.5% which GMB hailed as "an excellent pay deal."

DVSA found itself facing a double whammy of strike action with both members of Prospect and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union backing industrial action over ay and terms and conditions. Action continued throughout the month, with the respective sides seemignly becoming more entrenched.


As Christmas loomed around 2,000 drivers and warehouse staff across three Tesco DCs threatened strike action after union Unite rejected a "pitiful" pay offer on behalf of its members.

The pay offer gave members no increase in 2015 and a 1.5% increase in 2016 which the union said was "far below" what the retailer could afford. It was rejected by 91% of members.

Tesco remained defiant insisting Tesco’s supply chain was unlikely to be noticeably affected if any strike action went ahead. However just days later the union called off the ballot at Tesco's Didsbury, Doncaster and Belfast DCs after Tesco management came back with a revised two year offer, the details of which both parties declined to reveal.

DVSA, which had found itself fighting on two fronts, went to ACAS and as this year ended was set to return to talks with Prospect and the PCS unions in 2016.