Wage rises spark wave of claims by shop staff
MORE than 8,000 sales assistants have made claims for pay rises on the back of €700-a-year increases for staff at Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
Mandate has sought wage hikes for 3,500 Penneys staff and 700 workers at Boots, after winning increases of up to 2.5pc at major retail chains.
The union has also lodged a pay claim for 4,500 members at Dunnes Stores.
The move comes just weeks after it secured a 2pc wage increase for 13,000 staff at Tesco from next January. This followed a 2.5pc rise for over 3,000 staff at Marks and Spencer, to keep pace with inflation.
The pay rises at the British chains are having a domino effect on big retailers. Mandate is optimistic that it will get rises for almost half its 45,000 members by next year.
"We've made a good dent in it already with Marks and Tesco, so we would hope to go well beyond 50pc of our members," said Assistant General Secretary, Gerry Light.
He said Penneys and Boots had agreed to talks, but Dunnes had not yet responded.
"I think the time has come for these claims because these people are on relatively low pay of little over €20,000 a year, but are working harder than they were in the boom due to cuts in staff numbers and other cost savings."
He pointed out that staff at Penneys, which has 38 stores, had endured pay freezes, like most workers in the industry.
But the business had "weathered the recession well".
Mr Light said Boots, which has 72 stores, must take account of the recent pay awards and the fact that its UK parent company gave a 2pc increase to staff.
Employers' body Retail Excellence Ireland said the wave of claims was unlikely to affect most of the 255,000 staff in the retail sector, as many stores were struggling.
Chief executive David Fitzsimons said he was surprised by the rises as the industry was still in decline. Pay freezes were still the norm and that was unlikely to change before 2014.