Widnes DHL depot faces closure with loss of 64 jobs

First published in News Runcorn and Widnes World: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

INCENSED drivers are fighting to save 64 jobs after DHL announced the closure of its Widnes depot.

It follows a decision by its main customer, Howdens Joinery in Astmoor, Runcorn, to move its transport operation.

The bombshell announcement gave employees only 30 days notice.

Drivers mounted a protest demonstration outside Howdens yesterday (Tuesday) and are threatening industrial action.

Halton MP Derek Twigg has written to Howdens chief executive, asking for the decision to be postponed whilst ‘meaningful talks’ are held.

Mr Twigg said: “This is a very busy, well-utilised depot. It doesn’t seem justified to close down a whole depot with the loss of 64 jobs.

“We can ill afford it in this climate.

“I will do all I can to help these drivers.”

Kenny Rowe, the depot’s convenor and Halton’s Unite branch secretary, said: “We will continue to fight as long and hard as it takes.

“Many drivers have worked here for more than 20 years.

“We have asked Howdens to show us a business plan to rationalise their decision but they are refusing to give us any information.”

The dispute escalated on Monday when drivers claim they were intimidated by security staff and refused permission to use the toilets and canteen at Howdens.

Drivers claim they were bullied and refused to collect trailers. They were sent home without pay.

Mr Rowe said: “We are being intimated. It is an absolute disgrace.”

A spokesman for DHL Supply Chain, said: “DHL proposed to relocate its transport operation to existing sites at Avonmouth and Radlett.

“A new DHL hub will be established in Howden to service the north which would result in the closure of the Widnes site from early February.”

He said staff could re-locate or transfer to other DHL operations.

A Howdens Joinery spokesman said: “Following incidents of vandalism on the Runcorn site, Howdens Joinery introduced a marshalling system, which involves drivers being escorted on and off site. Since the introduction of the system, there have been no more reported incidents.”

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