A dispute has broken out between EV Cargo and Culina over which company is responsible for redundancy payments for 65 EV Cargo warehouse workers.

The workers, who are based at EV Cargo’s Daventry site, are set to become redundant after Culina won the retendered Lactalis contract last year.

If the row escalates it could see delays to the delivery of the dairy giant’s products across the UK.

The dispute flared when Culina took over the warehousing contract earlier this week, motortransport.co.uk has learnt.

It centres around which firm is responsible for paying for the redundancy of 65 staff that worked on the contract whilst it was held by EV Cargo. Redundancy costs for the staff are estimated to be around £350,000, sources say.

EV Cargo argues that under TUPE regulations it is Culina’s responsibility to make the workers redundant and bear the costs. Culina is arguing it is EV Cargo that should pick up the bill.

When the row broke out, 90 staff were facing redundancy but this has fallen to 65 after EV Cargo found roles for 25 of the staff that had worked on the Lactalis contract.

One source said: “These staff have worked diligently through a busy Christmas and Covid period and are now at potential risk of losing their redundancy payment, which would obviously be a real shame if things don’t get resolved.”

The source warned that failure to get an agreement could see the staff barred from the facility, which would result in no product movement to stores.

A spokesperson for EV Cargo Logistics said: “The affected workers were employed solely as warehouse operatives on the Lactalis contract. That contract has now moved to a new provider so it’s clear that the TUPE regulations apply and the employees should transfer to the new provider.”

Logistics union URTU has also weighed in, warning this week it is prepared to help its members take legal action if the dispute is not resolved.

An URTU spokesman said: “URTU are aware of the potential dispute between EV Cargo and Culina. Currently the union is not formally recognised for this group of workers, but is aware that some members of URTU are included in the dispute.

“If it transpires that this matter is not resolved fairly and any legal challenge is required, then the URTU will seek appropriate legal support for those members affected.

“URTU urges Culina and EV Cargo to resolve this matter sensibly and take full responsibility for these hard working employees, who have supported the business for a great many years and in particular through the last difficult year. URTU will monitor developments.”

Unite national officer for road transport and logistics Matt Draper said: “We aware of the situation regarding the EV Cargo Logistics site in Daventry and how this may affect our members there. We are in contact with both Culina and EV Cargo management to ascertain the exact state of play as there is no way Unite will tolerate members losing out in the TUPE arrangements. We will be commenting more fully when the picture is clearer.”

As MT went to press, Culina said it was not prepared to comment.