A ROW has erupted at pharmacy chain Boots after it unveiled plans to slash the wages of 465 "overpaid" workers, earning between €12 and €14.20 an hour.
Trade union Mandate claims the British chain wants to bring the pay of all 1,600 staff down to €12 an hour or less.
It said it claimed at recent talks that 465 workers earning over €12 an hour are on "over-scale payments", or "over-paid", even those on €12.03 an hour. The rest of the staff are earning less than this, under a deal negotiated with the union four years ago.
Staff have rejected the company's offer to buy out the pay rate by giving them a once-off lump sum, which would be taxed, worth 18 months of their loss.
"Why would anybody earning €14 an hour not be looking to keep their head above water?" asked Mandate divisional organiser Brendan O'Hanlon. Boots said it had begun a 'voluntary pay' review with a number of staff "to bring all pay rates in line".
It said the new package included a "realigned" pay rate, a lump-sum 18-month payment and the opportunity to earn a bonus for those offering "exemplary customer care".
Boots tabled the plan after the union lodged a claim for a 3pc pay rise due to the "extremely profitable trading position" of Boots.
Human resources director at Boots, Carmel O'Brien, said the chain offered a highly competitive package to staff "in what is a challenging retail environment". Talks are due to resume at the Labour Relations Commission on Friday, after Mandate and management failed to reach agreement last week.