Up to 1,000 Tesco staff fight massive cuts in pay
Almost 1,000 long-serving Tesco workers face a pay cut of over 16pc, the loss of guaranteed overtime and a bonus.
Last night, their union Mandate vowed it will ballot for industrial action if the company forges ahead with plans to slash their pay without agreement.
The supermarket giant wants to get rid of a contract agreed 20 years ago that it claims is "inflexible". Staff moving to a new contract would suffer a wage reduction of over €2 an hour from over €14.
Tesco has asked staff to sign a new contract, negotiated in 2006, which would mean lower pay of €11.97 an hour, later working hours and rostering on Sundays.
They would also lose a guaranteed bonus, which would now be based on performance.
The supermarket chain has promised to "compensate" staff for the loss of earnings and will discuss this with them in the coming weeks.
Mandate said workers on the old contract, who earn €14.31 an hour, would suffer a cut of 16.5pc, or €2.35 an hour.
They said this represents a minimum cut in annual earnings of €6,591, as well as the loss of late night and early morning allowances, and the guaranteed share bonus scheme.
"Tesco says it is open to negotiations, but if it drives through these cuts without agreement, we will ballot for industrial action," said Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light.
"Tesco's antics led to shock for all of the staff concerned but that shock has quickly turned to anger".
He said the "mischievous" attempt to attribute these cuts to "customer services" has gained no traction with anyone.
"This is quite simply a case of Tesco attempting to increase its profits for the parent company at the expense of its most long-standing members of staff.
"Tesco is saying it made a loss last year when in reality the company made bad investment in the United States, bad investments in the Middle East and was caught overvaluing properties and mismanaging its accounts, so much so that shareholders are now suing the company for millions."
Tesco said the pre-1996 contract is inflexible and was agreed at a time when its stores did not open on Sundays or late at night.
As a result, it said it has too many staff rostered during the quietest days.
It said their guaranteed overtime did not take account of a store's needs and meant other staff did not have the opportunity to work it.
"Our customer shopping habits are changing," said a spokeswoman.
"More customers are shopping online, at weekends and at different times of the day and our customer service needs to be able to meet these needs."
It said it wants to "unlock this inflexibility" so it can have more staff on the shop floor at its busiest times.
It pointed out that the changes affect just six percent of its 14,500-strong workforce.
Despite its record losses, Mandate claims Tesco is still highly profitable, although it will not reveal its results for Ireland.
It said it controls 24pc of the grocery market.
The union estimates its profits to be in the region of €250m to €300m a year.
Last April, Tesco suffered its biggest ever loss of €9bn and axed a €250 Christmas bonus for staff the following month.
Mandate is already seeking a 3pc pay rise for staff, backdated to last March.
The Labour Court is due to consider the claim following a hearing in a fortnight.