The Unite union has threatened The Co-operative Group with nationwide industrial action over the transfer of 50-Midlands based drivers to Eddie Stobart.

The union is up in arms at the planned transfer, via Tupe, of 50 Co-op drivers based in Coventry to Eddie Stobart this April.

Unite believes this has implications in regards to the Co-op outsourcing its remaining transport operations and has stated it will ballot 1,000 of its Co-op driver members over the action.

Adrian Jones, Unite national officer for retail distribution, said: “The Co-op has already intimated that it does not see itself as a haulier.

“It is our belief that with four sites already outsourced in Andover, Avonmouth, Cambridgeshire and the North West, the plans to outsource Coventry are the thin end of the wedge.”

Unite has driver members at Birtley, Newcastle;  Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland; Castlewood, north Derbyshire;  Coventry;  Newhouse, Lanarkshire; Plymouth and Thurrock in Essex.

The union became embroiled in a long-running battle with Eddie Stobart in 2012 after Tesco transferred workers at a site in Doncaster to Eddie Stobart.

Ultimately, 184 drivers were made redundant, although the union and operator reached a “without prejudice” agreement ahead of the start of an employment tribunal at the beginning of last year.

A spokesman for Eddie Stobart said: “Eddie Stobart is pleased to be working with the Co-op, and we look forward to getting started in April.”