Mandate Trade Union has issued strike notice to Tesco Ireland stating that the action will take place on St. Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, 14 February, according to a statement issued today. The strike will continue for an indefinite duration. Members of the Union balloted in favour of strike action by a margin of 78 percent.
Mandate, which represents more than 10,000 workers at the company, say the strike will initially involve 9 stores, but could escalate with a further 15 stores expected to ballot for industrial action tonight and tomorrow night.
According to Mandate, Tesco Ireland is unfairly changing contracts of employment for approximately 250 workers. The new contracts effects those employed before 1996 and would result in some workers experiencing reduced incomes of up to 15% along with increased ‘flexibility’. Mandate has stated its members intend to resist the changes ‘vigorously’.
The Union says the company has never justified the cuts to its workers’ conditions of employment and that Tesco’s actions are‘an abuse of power against a small number of local workers who have given more than 20 years of loyal service’.
John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary said, “Tesco is the most profitable retailer in the Republic of Ireland with estimated profits of more than €200 million annually and has recently purchased the largest UK wholesaler Booker for €4.3 billion. The company has confirmed that dividend payments to shareholders will restart this year and their share price has gone up by 33 percent in six months.”
Douglas added, “Tesco workers in Ireland who have worked with the company for more than 21 years, and are already classified as low-paid on slightly more than €14 per hour, are being told to accept imposed changes to their contracts or get out the door.
“We know that Tesco has hired a multinational legal firm which specialises in union-busting tactics. They have code-named their plan ‘Project Black’ and are trying to undermine any decent contracts of employment remaining in the retail sector in Ireland.”
Tesco Ireland has called on Mandate to accept the Labour Court’s Recommendation on changes to pre-1996 terms and conditions, and says that 90% of those employees in scope will receive a pay raise as a result.
Douglas has stated, “No worker wants to go on strike, but our members recognise that if Tesco can get away with tearing up contracts of employment without agreement for pre-1996 staff, it’ll be the 3,000 workers on post-1996 contracts who are currently on a higher hourly rate of pay next. That’s why we’ve seen such strong support from our members in these ballots for industrial action, particularly from those not affected by cuts, yet. They understand that together we are stronger.”
The full list of Tesco stores scheduled to participate in the strike include: Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2; Ballyfermot Rd, Dublin 10; Bray, Co Wicklow; Clearwater Shopping Centre, Dublin 11; Deanscurragh, Co Longford; Navan Town Centre, Co Meath; O’Connell St, Abbeyquarter North, Co Sligo; Manor West Retail Park, Tralee, Co Kerry; Tullamore Retail Park, Co Offaly.
In a statement issued by Tesco, the retail giant outlined: "We would like to reassure our customers that all Tesco stores will open for business as usual next Tuesday, 14th February 2017. Tesco has followed all industrial relations procedures and has exhausted the Industrial Relations mechanisms of the State over the past year in this dispute. We believe there is an onus on Mandate now to abide by the outcomes of the Labour Court after a Recommendation which the Union, themselves had sought."
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