Decision to close logistics depot and axe 250 jobs is condemned

The decisions to close the Tradeteam Ltd depot in Sheffield and downgrade the site at Ebbw Vale, south Wales, with the loss of more than 250 jobs has been branded as “shameful” by trade union Unite.

Unite has accused Tradeteam, part of logistics giant DHL, of taking taxpayer-funded furlough cash, while planning to close the Sheffield site and downgrade Ebbw Vale. The union has said this is “sharp practice; legally correct, but morally bankrupt.”

However, DHL replied that it has acted “legally and ethically”, while contending with the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the UK hospitality industry.

Unite says the Sheffield depot at the Tinsley Industrial Estate officially closes on 14 August, when about 200 drivers and warehouse staff will lose their jobs.

The customers served from Sheffield include Carlsberg, Coors, Mitchells & Butlers and Whitbread.

More than 50 jobs at the Ebbw Vale site are being made redundant.

Unite national officer for road transport and logistics Matt Draper said: “DHL has taken the taxpayer for a ride here, as it must have known it was going to shut the Sheffield site and much reduce the workforce at Ebbw Vale.

“However, it decided to use furlough money from the Government to avoid paying wages of the respective work forces during this period.

“These are loyal employees with hundreds of years of service – they have been treated shamefully.

“DHL’s senior management may feel smug that they have boosted their profit margins by a small degree, but we consider it sharp practice. It may tick all the boxes legally, but it is morally bankrupt.”

Draper said some of the Sheffield work had been transferred to Tingley, Leeds, where the employees were having to work flat out to meet higher than forecast demand.

He said this reinforces the view that there was no need to close the Tinsley site in the first place.

But the DHL Supply Chain spokesman said: “As previously stated, the Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on the UK hospitality industry which has required us to take a number of difficult decisions to protect our drinks logistics business for the long term.

“Without taking these measures, there was a very real risk to the wider operation which could have jeopardised even more roles in the future.

“Throughout the consultation process we have worked closely with Unite the union and have complied fully with all legal requirements and processes, including agreeing to Unite’s counter proposal at Ebbw Vale which has saved 13 full time roles.

“We fully appreciate that these are stressful times for all concerned, but we have acted legally and ethically throughout the consultation process to protect as many jobs as possible for the future.”