Sunday 20 August 2017

Nine Tesco stores face strikes from St Valentine's Day

Tesco Photo: PA
Tesco Photo: PA

Anne-Marie Walsh

Tesco may be hit by strikes from St Valentine's Day after the main retail union served notice of industrial action on the supermarket chain today.

Mandate, which represents 10,000 workers at the stores, said the industrial action that will start at nine stores will continue for an indefinite duration in a row over cuts to earnings.

The union warned that the action could spread to another 15 stores, which will ballot on industrial action tonight and tomorrow.

Members of the union balloted by 78pc in favour of strikes after the union accused the company of attempting to force changes to 250 workers' contracts of employment without agreement.

Mandate said the new contracts would result in some workers suffering cuts to their incomes of up to 15pc, along with increased flexibility in their work practices.

It claimed Tesco's actions are an abuse of power by a major multinational corporation against a small number of workers with more than 20 years service.

“Tesco is the most profitable retailer in the Republic of Ireland with estimated profits of more than €200m annually and has recently purchased the largest UK wholesaler Booker for €4.3bn," said Mandate General Secretary John Douglas.

He said the company has confirmed that dividend payments to shareholders will restart this year and its share price has gone up by 33pc in six months.

In a statement, Tesco said they want to reassure customers that all its stores will open for business as usual next Tuesday.

Tesco called on mandate to accept a Labour Court recommendation on changes to the terms and conditions of workers who joined before 1996. It said the recommendation which went beyond what it believed was affordable affects less than 280 people out of a workforce of 14,500 and followed 12 months of talks on compensation.

Tesco said the recommendation means 90pc of those affected will have a pay increase, while a 5pc share bonus and guaranteed overtime are protected.

"There is an onus on Mandate to abide by the outcomes of the Labour Court and we are shocked that it has rejected the recommendation which the union had sought," it said in a statement.

The company said Mandate was misguiding members by suggesting that there are alternatives to the recommendation.

It said the pre-1996 terms and conditions were agreed over 21 years ago before late nights, Sunday openings and online shopping.

It said it is the only employer in the food retail sector to recognise unions, offering above market rates of pay, conditions, benefits and careers.

"We want to improve our customer service but these terms are no longer suitable as we have too many people working during the earlier quieter times of the week and this also creates unfairness between colleagues," it said.

The stores that could be hit by strikes include:

  •     Tesco, Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2
  •     Tesco, Ballyfermot Rd, Ballyfermot Upper, Dublin 10
  •     Tesco, Vevay Road, Bray, Co Wicklow
  •     Tesco, Clearwater Shopping Centre, 11 Finglas Road, Dublin 11
  •     Tesco, Rear Main Street, Deanscurragh, Longford
  •     Tesco, Navan Town Centre, Kennedy Rd, Dillonsland, Navan, Co. Meath
  •     Tesco, O'Connell St, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
  •     Tesco, Manor West Retail Park, Ratass, Tralee, Co Kerry
  •     Tesco, Tullamore Retail Park, Portarlington Road, Cloncollig, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

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