Strikes at Tesco spread to 20 shops
Workers at 20 Tesco stores have balloted for strike action and staff at 11 have voted against it in a row over the axing of contracts for long-serving staff. Staff at seven more stores began voting last night, while employees at six more stores will be balloted today.
However, Tesco said all 148 stores will remain open nationwide.
The supermarket chain wants to roll out new contracts for staff who were hired before 1996.
It says their contracts are inflexible as they were drawn up before late night shopping, Sunday opening and online shopping.
Talks between the company and Mandate ended without agreement last week after union members rejected a Labour Court recommendation to resolve the row.
Relations between the supermarket chain and the union have worsened with both sides engaged in a war of words over the ballot results.
Mandate has accused Tesco of pressurising workers who are balloting.
Assistant general secretary Gerry Light said he had been made aware of instances where workers got calls from managers asking them to vote against industrial action.
Mandate said 20 out of 31 stores that have been balloted - almost two-thirds - have now supported strike action.
However, Tesco emphasised that of 10 stores balloted on Monday night, six had rejected the union's call for a strike.
It called on the union to urgently rethink "divisive" strikes and said the fact just 32pc of workers balloted voted 'yes' called its mandate for industrial action into question.
Mr Light accused the company of using scare tactics by claiming workers would suffer cuts in hours, lose family income supplement, or stores would close for good if they balloted for strike action. He claimed the company said new staff on temporary contracts would lose their jobs.