Business Irish

Thursday 19 April 2018

Tesco staff back strike action over 35pc earnings cut


Anne-Marie Walsh

More than 1,000 Tesco staff have overwhelmingly backed industrial action which could lead to store closures, if the company cuts long-serving workers' earnings by up to 35pc.

But there is hope that the row may be resolved after both sides agreed to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Tesco initially gave an ultimatum to move staff who started working for it before 1996 onto a new contract by April 18, but has deferred this until May 16.

Mandate said 99pc voted in favour of industrial action, which could include strike action, and there was an 85pc turnout.

It will now begin a ballot of its remaining membership of over 12,000 at the chain, in support of the long-serving staff.

Assistant General Secretary, Gerry Light, said notice will be served on the supermarket chain that staff will immediately place pickets on stores if it imposes the changes without agreement. This could lead to store closures.

Mandate previously claimed that Tesco refused to attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission, although Tesco claimed discussions had adjourned.

"This industrial action is not the result of a pay claim," said Mr Light. "This is the most successful retailer in the country saying that people on €14 an hour are too expensive and trying to cut their wages by up to 35pc. That's deplorable."

Tesco said it was disappointed with the result of the Mandate ballot.

In a statement, it said it has proposed a generous compensation offer including a voluntary redundancy scheme at five weeks per year of service uncapped and compensation of 2.5 times annual loss of earnings for colleagues moving to its main contract.

"We are proposing to move these colleagues to our main contract, which already covers the vast majority of our workforce, as the pre-1996 contract means we have too many colleagues working during the early, quieter, times of the week and not enough during the busiest."

Director of Corporate Affairs, Christine Heffernan, said the pre-1996 contracts are "not fit for purpose" due to changing opening hours and the growth in online shopping.

Irish Independent

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