Arla Foods has defended its decision to outsource its outbound logistics operation in Leeds to Moran Logistics, after a threat of industrial action from the Unite and GMB unions.

Dairy drivers being transferred from Arla Foods to Moran Logistics are poised for industrial action, unless talks to guarantee pay, conditions and collective bargaining are held.

The 100 affected drivers, who transfer this weekend (8 March), are being jointly represented by Unite and the GMB.

Both unions have attacked Leeds-based Arla Foods for refusing to supply financial information to justify the transfer; and Moran for not recognising Unite or the GMB for collective bargaining purposes.

However, a spokesman from Arla Foods told “In what continues to be a challenging period for the dairy industry, we’ve needed to review our operations to improve our efficiency and remain competitive. This has been key to our decision to outsource the outbound logistics operation run from the Leeds transport hub to Moran Logistics.”

He added that under TUPE regulations, contracts of employment including existing terms and conditions for all affected employees, will transfer to Moran Logistics. “We remain in communication with representatives of all those affected and we are committed to supporting our colleagues as we go through these changes,” he said.

The unions plan to serve notice on Moran Logistics on Monday 9 March threatening industrial action.

Rachel Dix, GMB regional officer, said: "Our members feel that Arla is relinquishing all responsibility for a long-serving, loyal workforce. This is compounded by the company's refusal to share key information on how cost savings can be generated by this transfer. In the absence of this detail, we can only conclude that both pay and jobs will be put at risk. This has to be challenged.”

Matt Draper, Unite national officer for road transport, said: "Unless Moran Logistics gets around the table for meaningful negotiations about recognising the unions and guaranteeing our members’ terms and conditions, the drivers could be striking over the forthcoming Easter holiday.”

Moran Logistics had not yet responded to a request for comment as this story was published.